Children's scoliosis treatment

Here’s what we always tell the parents of children with scoliosis: the sooner we are able to start your child’s scoliosis exercises, the better our chance of preventing further progression and avoiding the need for spinal fusion surgery.

However, in order for the exercises to be effective, the patient must be old enough to follow simple instructions and actively work on certain muscle groups.

We have successfully treated many young children from the age of 4 upwards. Younger children may benefit from some hands-on manipulation and massage therapy, but they cannot reap all the benefits of our ScolioGold programme because they are less able to follow our therapists’ instructions and carry out all of the necessary exercises.

Keep a close eye on your child’s back as they go through their teenage years

In most cases, the question of whether or not the patient is old enough to undergo scoliosis treatment never arises. Scoliosis normally doesn’t become apparent until a child goes through puberty; the appearance of a spinal curve usually coincides with the major growth spurt that tends to occur at this stage of a person’s life.

Still, while it is far less common, scoliosis can also be present from birth. This is known as either congenital scoliosis or neuromuscular scoliosis. In these cases, patients are often braced from a very young age to prevent progression as much as possible.

Key signs and symptoms

Back pain is a common complaint in both children and adults with scoliosis. The NHS outlines several other signs to look out for:

  • A visibly curved spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder or hip sticking out
  • Ribs sticking out on one side
  • Clothes not fitting well

Compliance is important

The results achieved through our ScolioGold exercises are strongly dependent on the patient’s commitment and compliance. This is something that varies based on the child’s personality; if you’re wondering whether or not your child is old enough for a Scoliosis SOS treatment course, you should also consider whether or not they would be happy to follow our instructions.

ScolioGold exercises are repetitive and easy enough for children to follow. Shorter, specially-tailored exercise programmes are available for younger patients based on their maturity level. These programmes aim to turn treatment into play to help engage little ones during their therapy.

If you have any concerns regarding your son/daughter’s spine, please contact Scoliosis SOS online or call 0207 488 4428 to arrange a radiation-free spinal scan.

Hydrotherapy

Derived from the Greek words hudōr (water) and therapeia (healing), hydrotherapy (also known as aquatic therapy) is a method that is used to treat a variety of different bodily ailments. We recently began incorporating hydrotherapy into our ScolioGold method for scoliosis treatment, and today we’d like to take some time to tell you a little more about it.

If you suffer from back pain due to scoliosis – but you’re worried that your reduced flexibility and mobility might hinder you in an exercise-based treatment setting – hydrotherapy is a great solution. Being immersed in water provides support for your body and creates a feeling of well-being without the intensity of land-based exercise.

 

How does hydrotherapy work?

Hydrotherapy combines physical rehabilitation treatments with the natural benefits of water-based exercise. The result is a gentle but efficient scoliosis treatment method.

Water has five key properties that play a large part in the effectiveness of hydrotherapy treatment:

  • Buoyancy – The upward pressure in the water eases stress on muscles and joints, soothing the aches and pains that scoliosis can cause.

  • Temperature – Warm water is known for soothing and relaxing the body.

  • Viscosity – The ‘thickness’ of water prompts gentle resistance from the muscles.

  • Turbulence – When placed in moving water, the body naturally moves to maintain balance, exercising the muscles.

  • Hydrostatic Pressure – Hydrostatic pressure provides a natural relief for joint swelling.

 

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis?

The main benefit of hydrotherapy is that flexibility and mobility are no longer an issue. As mentioned above, the gentle pressure and buoyancy provided by water naturally soothe pain and allow the patient to exercise while at ease.

Pain is often dramatically reduced by hydrotherapy, and as a result of this, patients with limited mobility are able to achieve fantastic results through stretching in the water. These stretches strengthen the muscles in the back and can help improve the degree of the curvature. If patients choose, they can also combine hydrotherapy with land-based therapy on one of our ScolioGold courses.

Another benefit of hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis is that it offers more stability and protection from falls for those who struggle with balance. This is a great confidence boost for many patients.

There are many other benefits of using hydrotherapy treatment for scoliosis, including:

  • Pain relief from muscle spasms
  • Ease of movement
  • Increased joint range and flexibility
  • Improved strength and endurance
  • Reduction of oedema (excess watery fluid in cavities or tissue in the body)
  • Improved circulation
  • Better cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased level of relaxation

 

Who can participate in hydrotherapy treatment?

Hydrotherapy is suitable for scoliosis sufferers of all ages. The healing and support provided make it an ideal method of treatment for those who lack confidence when it comes to more traditional forms of exercise. As mentioned above, stability is not an issue for elderly or less mobile patients, as the water allows them to exercise without fear of falling.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have had fantastic feedback from our hydrotherapy treatment sessions to date. We have found that it has offered hope to those patients who thought they would have to deal with their pain for the rest of their lives. Many of these patients did not think they would be able to improve their condition through exercise, but hydrotherapy treatment has provided them with that opportunity. 

If you think hydrotherapy treatment might be beneficial for you, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to book an initial consultation.

Specialised scoliosis physiotherapy

Idiopathic scoliosis (which usually arises during puberty, when the body is going through a period of rapid growth) is often treated using a rigid back brace that prevents the spinal curve from progressing as the patient grows. It’s important to note that the aim of this bracing treatment is not to correct / reverse the sideways curvature of the spine, but simply to stop it from getting worse until the body has finished growing.

And while bracing can be very effective in that respect, it does very little to assist in building up the muscle strength that will be needed to ensure spinal stability once the brace comes off.

In fact, bracing tends to have a negative effect on muscle strength.

Scoliosis braces typically have to be worn for over 20 hours a day in order to achieve the best treatment outcome. During the bracing period, the muscles around the spine are likely to become inactive because the brace is doing their job (i.e. supporting the spine) for them.

This often results in a weakening of the spinal muscles, which may lead to the patient becoming reliant on the support of the brace.

But physical therapy can help with this problem.

There is a lot of clinical evidence to suggest that bracing delivers better outcomes for the patient when combined with scoliosis-specific physiotherapy. A 2011 study1 found that combining these two approaches reduces the risk of future curve progression and thus the likelihood that spinal fusion surgery will eventually be required. It has also been shown2 that completing a scoliosis-specific exercise programme limits the reversal of spinal correction when bracing ends.

Not only are scoliosis-specific exercises recommended in the SOSORT 2011 guidelines for people with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who are undergoing brace treatment, but several authors who developed scoliosis braces (such as the Milwaukee, Boston, Lyon and Chêneau braces) have proposed that scoliosis-specific exercises should be used to complement brace treatment. Indeed, the newly-developed Sforzesco and Gensingen braces are specifically designed to be worn in conjunction with exercise-based therapy.

In short: it’s good to receive physiotherapy for your scoliosis even if it’s also being treated with a brace. Integrating scoliosis-specific exercises with a bracing treatment helps to provide a more complete rehabilitation programme for growing patients with idiopathic scoliosis.

Our Treatment Methods >   Book a Consultation >

Links & References

  • ScolioGold Therapy – The Scoliosis SOS Clinic’s own combination of proven exercise-based scoliosis treatment techniques
  • Contact Scoliosis SOS – Arrange an initial consultation (to be conducted at our clinic in London or via Skype / telephone)

 1. Negrini S, Aulisa AG, Aulisa L, Circo AB, de Mauroy JC, Durmala J,  Grivas TB, Knott P, Kotwicki T, Maruyama T, Minozzi S, O’Brien JP, Papadopoulos D, Rigo M, Rivard CH, Romano M, Wynne JH, Villagrasa M, Weiss HR, Zaina F: 2011 SOSORT guidelines: Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation treatment of idiopathic scoliosis during growth. Scoliosis 2012, 7:3

2. Zaina F, Negrini S, Atanasio S, Fusco C, Romano M, Negrini A: Specific exercises performed in the period of brace weaning can avoid loss of correction in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) patients: Winner of SOSORT’s 2008 Award for Best Clinical Paper. Scoliosis 2009, 4(1):8.

Scoliosis treatment without surgery

Scoliosis, a condition where the patient’s spine curves sideways, can be found in roughly 4% of the global population. Of those 4%, some have a very mild spinal curve that only measures 10-20 degrees, while others are more severely affected by the condition.

Generally speaking, once a scoliosis patient’s Cobb angle has progressed past the 40-degree mark (50 degrees in some territories), doctors will recommend spinal fusion surgery as the best course of action.


Now, there’s a reason why spinal fusion surgery is the standard treatment for severe scoliosis. The operation has a good overall success rate, achieving the desired effect (reducing curvature and preventing further progression) with no complications in the majority of cases.

However, there are a number of reasons why a scoliosis sufferer may wish to seek alternatives to spinal fusion:
  • All surgical procedures carry a certain level of risk – possible complications include infection and problems related to the anaesthesia used to sedate patients during surgery.

  • Spinal fusion surgery in particular can lead to a number of other complications, although the risk is very low. Read about the risks associated with scoliosis surgery here.

  • The spinal fusion procedure tends to be followed by a long recovery period, during which the patient may temporarily experience pain and reduced mobility/flexibility.

  • Depending on where you live, there may be a long waiting list for spinal fusion surgery, and time is imperative when your spinal curvature is still progressing. (This has been a particularly big problem in Ireland recently.)

  • The long-term effects of spinal fusion surgery on patients are still relatively unknown, especially as techniques keep changing. However, some patients may continue to experience or develop pain, while others find that a secondary curve forms above or below the fused area. Occasionally, it is necessary to undergo another operation to extend the fusion.

Treating scoliosis without surgery

With the above in mind, it’s perhaps easy to understand why a number of scoliosis patients are reluctant to undergo spinal fusion surgery. So what other treatments are available?

Mild to moderate cases of scoliosis are frequently treated using a Boston brace, but this approach doesn’t reverse the spinal curvature – it just aims to prevent it getting worse, and therefore it’s no use if your scoliosis is already quite severe or if you are an adult.

However, there are a number of non-surgical techniques that have been shown to reduce the Cobb angle and effectively combat the symptoms of scoliosis. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we combine a number of these methods into our own unique scoliosis treatment programme called ScolioGold.

Here are some of the techniques we use to provide scoliosis sufferers with a real alternative to scoliosis surgery:
If you would like to learn more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please call 0207 488 4428 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.

Phsyiotherapist with patient

When performed correctly, physical therapy is an effective form of treatment for scoliosis, and is often used as an alternative to having to wear a back brace or undergo spinal fusion surgery. However, physiotherapy is a very broad and varied field, and it can be hard to decide which type of physical therapy is best-suited to combating your spinal curve.

The NHS provides physiotherapy treatment for scoliosis sufferers, and many people resort to this to treat their condition. However, here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer a different form of physiotherapy that we call the ScolioGold method, and we feel it’s a more effective form of physiotherapy that will provide far better results than those available from the NHS.

In order to demonstrate this, we’ve compared the two treatment methods and shown you where we differ from NHS physiotherapy below.

Physiotherapists

  • ScolioGold

Our physiotherapists have been specifically trained to treat scoliosis, and have also undergone months of extensive additional training and examinations to ensure they have the skills to treat a whole range of complex spinal conditions (including hyperkyphosis).

  • NHS Physiotherapy

There are no specialist physiotherapists for scoliosis at the NHS, and although they may have physiotherapy degrees, a recent study highlighted physio students’ lack of knowledge when it came to scoliosis and how to treat it. Our medical team are regularly invited to guest lecture on scoliosis at a number of UK universities and hospitals.

Treatment

  • ScolioGold

Our ScolioGold method is a hybrid of several scoliosis-specific treatments, exercises and methods from all around the world. By combining techniques such as FITS, SEAS, and osteopathy, we aim to provide the best non-invasive scoliosis treatment possible. In order to target each patient’s goals and give them the best possible care, we offer a combination of hands-on group therapies and individualised scoliosis-specific exercises. Our treatment method is continually monitored, and it constantly develops to reflect new advances in the non-surgical field, thus ensuring that our therapy continues to deliver gold-standard results. There’s no limit on the number of therapy sessions we can provide; you may attend as many as you feel you need.

As well as providing physiotherapy, we also deliver radiation-free spinal and gain scanning, ergonomic assessments, and insole fitting to optimise posture and back health. We also provide patient education and long-term treatment and care plans for this lifelong condition.

  • NHS Physiotherapy

NHS physiotherapy programmes consist of generic stretches and strengthening exercises that are non-specific to your condition. There’s minimal hands-on therapy due to time constraints, and in some hospitals, physiotherapists are no longer allowed to even touch their patients, instead directing them to websites for advice and care.

There are an increasingly limited number of physiotherapy sessions available due to NHS budget cuts, and most trusts offer a maximum of 6 x 30 minute appointments. Furthermore, you will often not see the same therapist from one session to the next, which results in a lack of continuity in care. There’s also no aftercare, no follow-up appointments, and no ongoing advice or support.

To find out more about ScolioGold therapy, please click here. You can also get in touch with Scoliosis SOS by calling 0207 488 4428 or by filling out our contact form.