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Scoliosis Physiotherapy

Scoliosis is a condition that affects the normal shape of the spine,  changing and altering a person's overall trunk alignment and posture. S

coliosis causes the spine to move to the side and turn (rotate).

This condition can occur at any time during the lifespan, but is more commonly detected during adolescence (teenage years) and affects 2% to 3% of the general population, and is more common in females than males.

Scoliosis ranges from mild to severe cases, requiring a variety of treatments.

The more severe cases may require corrective spinal surgery. Scoliosis is best managed with a team approach that includes the family, orthopedic physician or surgeon, orthotist, and physiotherapists.

What is Scoliosis?

The Scoliosis Research Society defines scoliosis as a curvature of the spine to the side that also includes rotation. As mentioned earlier, scoliosis causes postural and trunk alignment changes that cannot be corrected by “standing up straight".

On an x-ray, the spine may appear to have an "s" or "c" shape. The severity of scoliosis is determined by measuring the angle of the curvature, referred to as a Cobb angle. A minimum of "10° of Cobb" needs to be present for a diagnosis of scoliosis.

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), the most common type of scoliosis, is diagnosed in children aged 10-18 years. Idiopathic means no identifiable cause is known, but 30% of children with AIS have some family history of the condition.

Other types of scoliosis include congenital, neuromuscular, and early onset (infantile and juvenile).

  • Congenital scoliosis is caused by a deformity in the bones of the spine that occurs during a baby's early development in the womb.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by a medical condition of the nervous system, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, which triggers weakening of the muscles that support the spine.
  • The cause of early onset scoliosis is not known. Early onset scoliosis includes infantile scoliosis diagnosed from birth to 3 years of age, and juvenile scoliosis diagnosed before the age of 10.

How Does scoliosis Feel like?

Scoliosis is typically a pain-free condition ie patients dont particularly complain of back pains due to scoliosis, but, that being said, over time pain may occur as the spine curves abnormally and affects the surrounding muscles and joints.

These changes may alter a person's alignment, posture, and movement patterns, causing irritation and pain. Muscles that usually support the spine may become imbalanced in scoliosis, leading to a loss of strength and flexibility.

Patients with scoliosis may note:

  • Uneven shoulder height
  • Uneven hip height
  • An uneven waistline
  • A general sense that the 2 sides of the body don't line up
  • Pain in the areas surrounding the spine, including the shoulder, pelvis, and hip
  • Pain with specific movement or activity

Our senior physiotherapists goals is to identify conditions, such as scoliosis, and help the individual restore and maintain mobility so they can function at their personal best, and improve their quality of life.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Scoliosis is usually detected during a physical examination or school screening performed by a

  • pediatrician
  • school nurse
  • or physical therapist

with the goal of early detection and treatment.

An initial visit with our senior physiotherapists includes

  • a thorough medical history
  • and specific questions about the family health history and current activities

We will closely examine the spine in several positions and check factors, such as strength and flexibility, and any feelings of tenderness or swelling. You or your child may be asked to briefly demonstrate the activities or positions that cause difficulty or pain.

We also will identify symptoms the individual is experiencing that are caused by the curve to the spine. If the patient goes to our senior physiotherapists before seeing a physician, the patient will be referred to an orthopedic physician, since a radiograph is needed to confirm a diagnosis of scoliosis.

how our senior physiotherapists can help

The variety of treatment options for scoliosis includes

  • scoliosis and spinal physiotherapy
  • bracing
  • and corrective spinal surgery

Determining the best course of treatment is based on the type and severity of the scoliosis, the patient’s age, and the guidelines established by the Scoliosis Research Society.

We can provide care during any of the phases of scoliosis treatment, including bracing or postsurgery. We will evaluate and assess

  • the posture and movement patterns of the whole body
  • noting any limitations caused by changes in the spine
  • and address other symptoms, such as pain and muscle imbalances

We will work with you and your child to develop an individualized plan tailored to the type and severity of the scoliosis as well as patient goals. Your physician will continue to closely monitor progress throughout the course of rehabilitation.

Scoliosis physiotherapy treatments may include:

Range-of-Motion Exercises

We will design a gentle range of motion treatment program to prevent limitations or to increase the body's range of motion, if movement limitations are present.

Strength Training

We will design a treatment program to strengthen any muscles surrounding the spine or in other parts of the body that have been weakened by the change in the spine’s position, such as the

  • hips
  • shoulders
  • or even the head and feet

Manual Therapy

We are trained to gently restore motion to joints and muscle tissue that may have become restricted due to scoliosis. They may use their hands to help guide and retrain movement patterns with


Several additional treatments, such as

may aid in achieving physical therapy goals. Our senior physiotherapists will choose the most appropriate modalities for your particular case.

Functional Training

We are trained to be experts in assessing movement patterns, providing education on proper movement patterns, and retraining the body for optimal movement.


We will provide information about scoliosis and the effects on the body and movement.