Scoliosis is a spinal curvature disorder that is more common than many people believe, as it affects roughly 2-3 percent of the population. Scoliosis can develop for a couple different reasons, and it involves an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. It tends to be more common in adolescents and teens who are going through a growth spurt, and if a curvature disorder sets in, it’s imperative to treat the issue so that it doesn’t continue to worsen. Oftentimes treatment for early stage or mild scoliosis involves a heavy dose of physical therapy. Below, we take a closer look at how scoliosis can be effectively treated with the help of a physical therapist.
PT For Spinal Curvature Disorders
You may suspect that your child is dealing with a curvature disorder simply by viewing their posture when standing or bending forward, but if they mention that they are dealing with numbness in their arms, shortness of breath or back pain, consider having them evaluated by a physical therapist. A physical therapist will be able to use a number of different diagnostic approaches to analyze your child’s spinal alignment and determine the best course of action.
But before they develop a physical therapy routine, they’ll want to establish a baseline assessment to understand your child’s strengths and deficits as they pertain to their curvature disorder. They’ll conduct a physical exam and have your child perform some movement screens and exercises to assess their strength, range of motion, posture, balance, functional mobility and their pulmonary abilities.
From there, your physical therapist will work to develop an individualized treatment plan to help address a number of different issues related to your child’s spinal curvature disorder. Oftentimes physical therapy is not designed to shift your child’s spine back into the correct location, but rather to prevent a worsening curve and additional symptoms. Through targeted exercises and postural improvements, your physical therapist will work to improve your child’s:
- Breathing Abilities – Curvature disorders can put increased pressure on a child’s lungs, causing them to function at a decreased capacity. Breathing exercises and improvements to posture and key muscle groups can help to improve lung function.
- Spinal Support – Strengthening key muscles and tissues that support your spine will be a major point of emphasis during your PT sessions. A better-supported spine is less likely to continue to shift out of an unnatural position because stress can be dispersed onto other areas besides the spinal column.
- Increase Range Of Motion – Controlled flexibility exercises will work to expand your comfortable range of motion, as a curvature disorder can lead to movement restrictions.
- Decrease Pain – All of the above points will work towards this goal, but physical therapy to treat scoliosis is designed to decrease pain and improve functional outcomes. We can target specific areas of discomfort or tweak your posture positioning so that discomfort subsides and you can get back to doing all the physical activities you love without pain.
As we mentioned above, physical therapy isn’t going to shift your spine back into perfect alignment, but it can give you the tools to manage your condition on your own so that more invasive methods like surgery are not necessary. You can expect to work with a physical therapist for a number of weeks, but eventually we want to teach you all the skills you need so that you can continue to prevent any future issues on your own. For more information about preventing and treating spinal issues with physical therapy, or to consult with a PT team about a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.
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