Schroth Method Treatment for Scoliosis

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we've been successfully treating scoliosis patients for well over a decade. Our comprehensive ScolioGold treatment programme combines a variety of well-known therapeutic techniques, and the exercises that we teach our patients allow them to manage their symptoms and prevent progression from the comfort of their own home.

One of the techniques we use to treat our patients is the Schroth method, in which our therapists our expertly trained.

 

What is the Schroth method?

The Schroth method is an exercise-based physiotherapy programme that is used to treat scoliosis without surgical intervention. This world-renowned treatment method has helped countless people to improve their posture and overcome the symptoms of scoliosis.

The Schroth method is named after Katharina Schroth, the German physiotherapist who devised it. Schroth herself had a curved spine, and after making great progress with her own condition, she decided to open up a clinic to treat other people with scoliosis.

Katharina Schroth passed away in 1985, but her daughter Christa Lehnert-Schroth continued her work and the Schroth method is now used to treat scoliosis patients all over the world.

 

How does the Schroth method help people with scoliosis?

The Schroth method uses stretches and exercises to develop the inner muscles of the rib cage in order to correct spinal abnormalities in all three planes of the body. This treatment method also places emphasis on the conscious correction of posture during day-to-day life.

Schroth Method Exercises

The Schroth-based exercises that we use here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are customised to each patient's unique spinal curvature, as well as their age and physical ability. Our use of the Schroth method has allowed 88% of our patients to avoid the need for spinal fusion surgery. We also:

  • Use a specific rotational breathing technique to correct spinal rotation and increase the patient's lung capacity

  • Rebalance the patient's spinal position using pelvic corrections and isometric contractions

  • Make patients more aware of their posture on a daily basis, ensuring they have the correct equipment at home and at school/work to maintain their corrected position

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Examples of Schroth method exercises

Here are just a few of the stretches and exercises that make up the Schroth method:

1. Prone on stool

One of the core Schroth exercises, performed in a prone position facing towards the floor. Depending on the patient's classification, condition, previous medical history and symptoms, this exercise has the potential to correct:

  • A thoracic curve using shoulder traction, shoulder counter-traction and the de-rotation breathing technique
  • A lumbar curve via activation of the iliopsoas muscle

With a different setup, it can also be used to help thoracolumbar curves.

Prone on Stool Exercise

This exercise requires quite a few pieces of equipment including tubes, stools, belts, straps, beanbags and wedges. Watch our patient Isobel perform this exercise during a check-up appointment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic:

 

2. Semi-hanging

This primary Schroth exercise uses gravity to stretch out the spine and relieve pressure on vertebral joints. At the same time, the patient will be applying the rotational breathing technique to flatten the prominent areas of their back, activating their muscles on exhalation to train their body to remember the corrected position when they stop exercising.

Semi-Hanging Schroth Exercise

This is often used as a preparation exercise at the beginning of a treatment session. A set of wall bars (or equivalent) is necessary to perform this exercise effectively.

Watch our patient Nicole, who travelled from Ghana to the UK for scoliosis treatment, practise this exercise with her therapist:

 

3. Iliopsoas on a ball

This is a very patient-specific Schroth exercise that is only suitable for someone with a lumbar or thoracolumbar curve. It works by utilising the activation of the iliopsoas muscle to help de-rotate the affected portion of the patient's spine. This is one of the simpler Schroth method exercises, requiring only a gym ball and wall bars (or equivalent).

Iliopsoas Ball Exercise

Here at the clinic, patients often receive assistance from the therapists using myofascial release techniques to 'mobilise' the spine and help the patient to achieve a straight posture in standing.

Watch our patient Molly from Suffolk perform this exercise:

The Schroth component of our ScolioGold therapy course places huge emphasis on conscious correction of posture throughout daily life, not just during exercise therapy. Education is paramount - throughout your 4-week course, our therapists will help you to learn about scoliosis and your body to ensure that you can recognise an abnormal posture and correct it accordingly.

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What is the Rigo-Schroth method?

The Rigo-Schroth method is a modification of the Schroth method. Devised in the 1980s by a Spanish practitioner named Dr Manuel Rigo, it is based on much the same regime of stretches as the Schroth method itself; however, the Rigo-Schroth method is structured differently, with significantly more emphasis on the role of the therapist.

 

Combining Schroth method exercises with other treatment techniques

Back when we first opened our clinic, our treatment courses were entirely based on the Schroth method, but over the years, we noticed that some aspects of scoliosis were not addressed through use of the Schroth method alone. So, to ensure that all aspects of each patient's condition are fully treated, we've combined the Schroth and Rigo-Schroth methods with a number of other exercise-based / non-surgical treatment to help provide our patients with a fully comprehensive treatment package.

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This approach has yielded superb results: our treatment courses have proved capable of preventing progression, improving posture and cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, improving quality of life, and reducing the patient's Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees.

To enrol on one of our Schroth-based scoliosis treatment courses, contact us online or give us a call on 0207 488 4428.

 

Further reading

Darren Lui with Scoliosis SOS team

On Thursday 7th February 2019, we were privileged to welcome Mr Darren Lui into the Scoliosis SOS Clinic along with Kate Robertson, a physiotherapist who works alongside him in South West London. Mr Lui specialises in orthopaedics and has a particular interest in vertebral body tethering.

Mr Lui gave a very interesting presentation to our ScolioGold therapists and patient care co-ordinators about sagittal balance and the importance of assessing and treating each patient individually based on their presentation. He also discussed the ways in which he feels having an effective pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy structure in place could help to decrease scoliotic patients' pain and improve many patients' quality of life.

As a team, we discussed the significance of having a 'pretty x-ray' showing a straighter spine, and how this is often the sole goal of young girls undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Although this is the outcome for some patients, in a lot of cases this is far from a realistic outcome for the patient and the more important outcomes should be measured against patient flexibility, quality of life and pain reduction.

Mr Lui explained that if he is able to stabilise a curvature and prevent further progression, the procedure is still classed as a success. This initially shocked our team of ScolioGold therapists who had been so used to hearing about the significance of Cobb angle reduction within the orthopaedic world. In fact, many of our patients contact the clinic specifically to find out by how much they can expect to reduce their Cobb angle.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we have seen patients reduce their Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees through exercise. However, this is never something we guarantee, and patients are specifically advised that the aim of our treatment is to prevent further progression and improve quality of life.

Up until very recently, most orthopaedic surgeons have failed to acknowledge that scoliosis can cause a patient a significant amount of pain. However, times are now changing, and more orthopaedic consultants are identifying that imbalances around the spine due to scoliosis can cause pain in patients. It has also been recognised that surgery would not necessarily be able to decrease pain levels in a patient with scoliosis.

Mr Lui was very keen to see the work our ScolioGold therapists do with our patients during a 4-week treatment course. The aim of ScolioGold treatment is to rebalance the muscles surrounding the spine, allowing patients to stand in a symmetrical upright position, improving their cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, and preventing further progression.

Patients on the NHS are currently offered very little opportunity to learn specific scoliosis exercises. These exercises are proven to be successful, and not only in preventing progression - they have also been shown to improve a patient's quality of life significantly.

Pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy is almost non-existent on the NHS, but allowing patients to take part in such activity could both prevent the need for surgery and improve the outcome for patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

We hope to work closely with Mr Lui over the next few months to make the dream of being able to offer ScolioGold treatment to more patients throughout the UK a reality.

For more information on the treatment we offer, please contact us online or call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

Ugne is a 24-year-old woman who recently completed a 4-week treatment course at Scoliosis SOS. She is originally from Lithuania, but currently lives in London. This is her scoliosis story.

Scoliosis Treatment - Ugne from Lithuania

Ugne was about 13 years old when a family friend noticed that her spine was uneven. Her parents took her to a chiropractor, and before long, she had been diagnosed with scoliosis.

Ugne went for an X-ray scan at the age of 14, and following this, she attended numerous 15-minute sessions where her back was cracked and she was taught mobility exercises. She noticed that this helped with the pain she was experiencing, but when she started university, she stopped attending these appointments.

Some time later, Ugne decided to pursue scoliosis treatment because she was unhappy with the way her curved spine was making her look. She came across Scoliosis SOS while she was researching different treatments and exercises online.

Ugne's Scoliosis SOS Experience

Ugne came for a consultation with one of our consultants, Ben. This consultation session was very thorough, and she felt confident in enrolling on a treatment course after seeing other patients' results.

Ugne felt that our approach to treatment is unique because it is not a 'one size fits all' method - instead, each person's treatment programme is tailored to their condition and the results they want to achieve. She was also delighted that the treatment was carried out in group sessions so that there was always somebody around to answer her questions and offer moral support where needed.

Ugne came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic because she wanted to improve her physical appearance, and she feels that her treatment course has definitely helped with this. She has taken away a heightened awareness of her posture that will continue to improve her condition in the future. Ugne highlights that anyone who is on the fence about coming to us for treatment should take the positive reviews and results of others on board as an indication of what to expect.

To see Ugne talking about her experience at Scoliosis SOS, watch the video below.

If you'd like to find out more about the treatment courses we provide here at Scoliosis SOS, or if you'd like to book a consultation with us, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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When treating a child or teen with a curvature of the spine, doctors will often recommend bracing as a way of halting the curve's progression.

Back braces come in a variety of forms, each designed to prevent/minimise curvature development while the patient grows. Here, we look at two of the most well-known brace types: the Milwaukee brace and the Boston brace.

Milwaukee brace for scoliosis

Milwaukee brace

The Milwaukee brace may be prescribed to individuals who possess high thoracic (upper back) curves. It has an unusual design that is intended to manipulate the patient's full upper body: the brace extends from the pelvis all the way up to the neck, and it's manufactured with a contoured plastic pelvic girdle and neck ring, connected by a metal bar in both the front and back of the brace.

These metal bars play an important role, helping the torso extend while the neck ring keeps the head in a central position over the pelvis. Pressure pads are strategically attached to the metal bars with straps in accordance with the shape of the patient's spinal curvature.

The Milwuakee brace (first developed in 1945 by Dr Albert Schmidt and Dr Walter Blount of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee's Children's Hospital) is viewed by many as the first modern brace designed for the treatment of scoliosis. It has undergone a number of tweaks over the years, although the current design has been in use since 1975.

The Milwaukee brace is far less common now that form-fitting plastic braces are available. However, it is still prescribed for some scoliosis patients with curves located very high in the spine.

Boston brace for scoliosis

Boston brace

The Boston brace was first developed in the early 1970s by Mr William Miller and Dr John Hall of The Boston Children's Hospital. It is a a type of thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), and it's one of the most commonly-used brace options when it comes to treating scoliosis.

TLSO braces are commonly referred to as 'underarm' or 'low-profile' braces. The Boston brace is much smaller and far less bulky than the Milwaukee brace, with plastic components custom-made to fit the patient's body exactly. The Boston brace covers most of the torso; at the front, it starts below the breast and extends all the way to the beginning of the pelvic area, while at the back, it starts below the shoulder blades all the way down to the tail bone of the spine.

This type of brace works by applying three-point pressure to the curve pattern in order to prevent further progression. This forces the lumbar areas to 'flex', pushing in the abdomen and flattening the posterior lumbar curve.

ScolioGold therapy and other treatments

If you've been diagnosed with scoliosis (or another curvature of the spine) and wear a back brace to help halt the progression of your curve, it is a good idea to undergo specialised physiotherapy as well. The sole purpose of a back brace is to stop the curve in your spine worsening during periods of growth; it does very little to assist in the building of the muscles needed for stability once the brace has been removed. To learn more about the specialised treatment courses for brace wearers that we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here.

In some cases, the treatment courses that we deliver can eliminate the need to wear a brace altogether! Please use the links below to find out more and book your Scoliosis SOS consultation.

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Pia Before and After Scoliosis Treatment

In January 2019, Pia (47) and her daughter Lova (14) travelled to London from their home in Gothenburg, Sweden to undergo treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Read on to find out how we were able to help them alleviate their scoliosis problems!

Lova's Scoliosis

Lova was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2016. She was 12 years old at the time, and her Cobb angle measurement was 40 degrees. Lova's scoliosis appeared to be hereditary - her mother, aunt and great-grandma had all been diagnosed with the same condition previously.

Once diagnosed, Lova attended biannual check-ups with her school nurse. Though a candidate for surgery, Lova did not want to undergo an operation and decided to look at non-surgical options instead. She started wearing a Providence brace for a total of 8 hours a night to slow the progress of her spinal curve, but over the next 18 months, her Cobb angle worsened to 42 degrees, putting her on the borderline for surgical intervention. This came as a real blow to Lova, an avid horse rider and keen gymnast who was concerned that spinal surgery would limit her ability to continue these activities.

Pia's Scoliosis

Lova's mother Pia is a 47-year-old paediatric consultant and surgeon. Pia was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 12 (just like Lova), and before coming to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, she had been experiencing a lot of lower back pain as a result of the 33- and 28-degree curves in her thoracic and lumbar spine. This was especially problematic when Pia was carrying out long surgical procedures.

Pia wore a Boston brace for 3 and a half years between the ages of 12 and 16, and she tried several courses of physiotherapy treatment after that in an effort to alleviate the curve in her spine. But neither the brace nor the physiotherapy were ever of any long-term help, with only intermittent results achieved.

In the end, it was Anna Nordenstrom - one of our previous patients and a colleague of Pia's - who recommended the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in the hope that we would be able to help both Pia and her daughter.

How We Helped

Pia and Lova underwent 4 weeks of therapy with Scoliosis SOS, including group and one-to-one sessions comprising specific corrective exercises and pain relief measures targeted at each woman's specific condition.

Pia saw a 50% reduction in her cervical rotation and a 20% reduction in her thoracic rotation, along with decreased levels of pain. Lova experienced a 50% reduction in her cervical rotation and grew by 3cm!

During a check-up with her consultant in Sweden, Lova was told that the curvature in her spine now measured just 38 degrees and that she was no longer a candidate for surgery - great news!

Watch the video below for a full account of Lova and Pia's story.

If you have any questions about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and the treatment courses we provide, please contact us today!

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