Scoliosis Corset

We've discussed the use of braces to treat scoliosis quite a few times on this blog, but are you aware of just how many different types of scoliosis brace there are? From the Boston brace to the Gensignen brace, there are many options available to scoliosis patients and the medical professionals responsible for treating them.

Today, we're going to look at a type of soft scoliosis brace called a corset brace.

What is a corset brace?

If you've seen the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, you know what a corset is: a tight-fitting undergarment that wraps around the torso, shaping the wearer's figure. Corsets were common from the mid-16th century onwards, although they have long had a reputation for being very uncomfortable and they're not worn very often nowadays.

A medical corset (of the kind that might be used to treat scoliosis) has much in common with a regular corset: it's made of fabric (usually cotton or nylon) and tightened with laces. Some are reinforced with metal bars.

Just as a corset worn for fashion purposes shapes the figure in a certain way, a scoliosis corset shapes the body in order to help correct and/or alleviate the spinal curvature and its symptoms.

How do corsets help with scoliosis?

The scoliosis brace has two functions:

  • Reduce the weight / stress being placed on certain areas of the spine
  • Restrict movement, preventing postures that might harm the spine further

Whereas a rigid scoliosis brace (e.g. a Boston or Milwaukee brace) aims to prevent the wearer's spinal curve from progressing as they grow, a soft corset brace focuses more on alleviating pressure and creating conditions that are conducive to faster healing. For instance, they are sometimes used to help patients recovery from scoliosis surgery.

Alternatives to bracing

While bracing can be useful for limiting the effects of scoliosis, it is generally not the most effective treatment method available - not on its own, at least.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we frequently treat scoliosis patients who wear (or have previously worn) braces to help with their condition. However, our ScolioGold treatment programme has also proven to be an effective alternative to bracing in that it can:

  • Reverse the progression of spinal curvature (see our results page)
  • Reduce pain and stiffness
  • Improve mobility and muscle balance
  • Boost overall quality of life

If you're interested in getting treated at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, please take a look at our upcoming course dates or get in touch to book an initial consultation.

Further reading:

Surgery is often recommended once a scoliosis patient's spinal curve has progressed beyond a certain point, and in the vast majority of cases, 'surgery' means spinal fusion surgery. This procedure involves joining two or more vertebrae together to prevent the patient's curvature from growing; nowadays, this is usually achieved by fastening small metal screws called pedicle screws to the spine, then using a bone graft to 'fuse' the vertebrae together

However, while this procedure is still the standard surgical scoliosis treatment method in most parts of the world, there are a number of risks associated with spinal fusion. Though rare, the potential complications include:

  • Screws placed in the wrong positions
  • Screws breaking or coming loose
  • Dural lesion
  • Infection
  • Various neurological, pulmonary, and vascular complications

In response to the risks sometimes associated with spinal fusion, a number of other surgical scoliosis treatments have been developed, and some of these new techniques seem to becoming increasingly popular. Today, we'd like to look at three relatively new surgical procedures and why they're potentially preferable to spinal fusion surgery.

Magnetically-controlled growing rods (MCGR)

Magnetically Controlled Growing Rods

Magnetically-controlled growing rods are already being used in more than 20 countries (including the UK and the USA) to treat scoliosis in children under the age of seven. During the MCGR procedure, the surgeon fastens titanium rods to the patient's spine; these rods have a lengthening mechanism that can be operated magnetically, and after the operation itself, the patient attends a series of minimally-invasive 'distraction' procedures where a remote controller is used to lengthen the rods and correct the spinal curvature.

This effectively puts the doctor in control of the child's scoliosis until they have finished growing.

 

Stapling and tethering

Spinal Tethering Operation

Vertebral body stapling (VBS) and vertebral body tethering (VBT) are two minimally-invasive procedures that are usually performed on scoliosis patients who are still growing (e.g. teenagers and pre-teens). VBS uses malleable metal staples to join two or more vertebrae together, while VBT uses pedicle screws attached to a flexible cable at the site of the curvature. VBS is recommended for thoracic curves of 25-35 degrees and lumbar curves under 45 degrees; VBT can be used to treat thoracic curves between 35-70 degrees.

Currently available only in the UK, the USA, India, Canada and New Zealand, the tethering and stapling procedures have no major reported complications and are generally less invasive than the more commonly-seen spinal fusion procedure.

Apifix

Apifix for Scoliosis

Apifix is a small implant that is attached to the spine using just two screws. No fusion is performed, and the procedure is not very invasive, leaving a far less visible scar than spinal fusion surgery.

Apifix Scar

This procedure is ideal for adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis, especially where the curve measures 40-60 degrees. Apifix is currently available in the USA, Israel, and across Europe.

Any surgery carries risks and complications, depending on the procedure and patient presentation. If you are looking for a non-surgical alternative to spinal fusion, please contact the Scoliosis SOS Clinic today. We use an exercise-based regime called ScolioGold to correct scoliosis without any surgical intervention whatsoever. We can also assist with recovery after undergoing scoliosis surgery.

If you have recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, you may know that bracing is a method that's commonly used to treat curvatures of the spine. As you research which bracing options are available to you, you may come across the Gensingen brace for scoliosis. Here's all the information you may need about this option:

What is a Gensingen brace?

A Gensingen brace works differently to more traditional 'hard' braces such as the Boston brace, the Charleston brace, the Milwaukee race and the Wilmington brace. The Gensingen brace for scoliosis works to improve scoliosis through corrective movement instead of through immobilising the patient like the hard brace alternatives. Although the Gensingen brace is a hard brace, it is less restrictive and provides more flexibility for patients. 

The creator of the Gensingen scoliosis brace is Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss. After working on brace development since the 1990s, Weiss was inspired to create this new bracing method when he realised that other scoliosis treatment methods were simply not serving the patients as well as they could. The Gensingen brace was created to ease the symptoms of scoliosis and to provide real, long-term improvement.

How does a Gensingen brace work?

The Gensingen brace works by positioning the patient's back in the opposite position to the curvature, creating a sort of mirror image. This means that the patient is placed in an exaggerated corrected position that effectively works to realign the spine. Each Gensingen brace is designed for the individual patient by Dr Hans-Rudolf Weiss himself and then created by orthopedists to ensure that it fits the patient correctly. Gensingen braces have been shown to halt the progression of spinal curvature and improve long-term quality of life without the need for surgery.

Gensingen braces form part of the Schroth Best Practice Academy, a complete treatment package of bracing and physiotherapy. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we can provide Schroth physiotherapy to complement a Gensingen brace. Prior to brace fitting, this involves increasing trunk flexibility and correction to enable the best in-brace correction result. Then, during brace wear and after the patient ceases to wear their Gensingen brace, Schroth physiotherapy can aid in maintaining trunk strength to ensure that positive results are sustained in the long term.

How long should a Gensingen brace be worn?

A Gensingen brace for scoliosis needs to be worn 22 hours a day to be effective. It may also need to be worn for as long as the patient continues to grow, so in the case of young children or adolescents, this could be a number of years. As the curve improves, the 22 hours a day may be reduced to 12-16 hours per day.

The Gensingen brace for scoliosis is a great method of combating spinal curvature, but while it isn't quite as uncomfortable as other scoliosis braces, it can still be a little restrictive, especially when you can only take it off to bathe/shower. Additionally, if you’re looking for an alternative to bracing, our ScolioGold course can help improve your scoliosis through physical therapy alone. We treat scoliosis patients using exercise methods that help to realign the spine and reduce the Cobb angle. Our 4-week course provides an effective method of improving the Cobb angle significantly - you can see the results here.

If you think our ScolioGold course might be for you, please get in touch with us today to book an initial consultation.

Chiropractic Treatment
 
If you're somewhat familiar with chiropractic therapy, you might assume that it's an ideal treatment for scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine). Chiropractic focuses primarily on the spine, and if you're a scoliosis sufferer, going to a chiropractor can seem like a far preferable alternative to wearing a brace or undergoing spinal fusion surgery.
 
But can chiropractic treatment really combat scoliosis effectively? That's the question we'll be attempting to answer today.

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a form of medicine that is used to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal disorders, with practitioners using their hands (or a machine) to perform treatments on the bones, muscles and joints, which are commonly referred to as 'manual therapies'. Chiropractic treatment usually involves a range of techniques, although this is often focused on the manipulation of the patient's spine, in order to treat conditions which cause pain in the neck and lower back, including scoliosis.
 
While those who practice chiropractic are considered to be part of the healthcare profession, there have been many debates and controversies relating to its effectiveness over the years, particularly due to the fact that it does not refer to a single treatment. While there is evidence to support the fact that chiropractic medicine can improve and relieve persistent lower back pain, there is no strong evidence to suggest that it has the ability to treat other conditions.

Can chiropractors treat scoliosis?

As mentioned above, there is evidence to suggest that chiropractic has the ability to effectively treat lower back pain; however, this may not provide effective relief for the majority of scoliosis sufferers. Studies have shown that the practice is most effective in cases of acute, short-term pain, which means that it is unlikely to provide long-term results for patients with scoliosis, particularly for those with moderate to severe curves. In addition, there are some practitioners who treat scoliosis in the same manner as other spinal conditions, which is unsuitable for a condition which requires a unique approach, and can vary hugely from patient to patient.
 
Chiropractic treatment also does nothing to address the muscular imbalance that results from the development of a scoliotic curve, and it relies on the patient returning to see their chiropractor on a regular basis to maintain the desired level of pain relief.

Are there any alternatives to chiropractic treatment?

While the repositioning of joints can contribute towards successful treatment, this should be complimented with other treatment methods in order to achieve long-term success. Here at Scoliosis SOS, our ScolioGold treatment method uses manual and physical interventions to treat scoliosis sufferers; however, this does not make up the entirety of our treatment approach. Instead, we combine this therapy with stretches and exercises to form a more holistic treatment plan, which addresses multiple aspects of the sufferer's condition, as opposed to focusing on a single element of the condition. ScolioGold is a long-term system of care that is designed to help scoliosis patients self-manage their condition rather than forcing them to rely on repeated visits to a practitioner.
 
To find out more about our ScolioGold programme, visit our Video Experiences and Testimonials page to see how we have helped previous patients to correct and improve their scoliosis symptoms. You can also get in touch to enquire about our courses, by filling in our quick enquiry form here.
scoliois physical therapy
 
No two cases of scoliosis are exactly alike - symptoms and their severity vary hugely from patient to patient and depend on a great number of contributing factors. Due to the numerous variations in how scoliosis occurs and progresses, no one treatment is universally effective; certain treatment routes may be effective for some patients but fail to provide the desired results for others.
 
Another issue that often arises when it comes to treating scoliosis concerns the patient's personal circumstances and physical abilities. The typically-recommended treatment for progressive curves in young people is a back brace, which is fitted to the patient's exact measurements and worn for extended periods of time in an effort to limit curve progression. For patients whose curves are progressing at a particularly rapid rate (to a degree that has the potential to limit their mobility, breathing capacity and overall health), spinal fusion surgery is often recommended in order to permanently halt the curvature's progression. While these options may provide encouraging results for some, others may find them ineffective or limiting, and this prompts many scoliosis sufferers to seek out alternative treatments.
 
One approach that is often discussed as an alternative to surgery and bracing is physical therapy - that is, the non-invasive treatment of spinal curvature via a series of exercises and manipulations. While this type of therapy can be an effective form of treatment for scoliosis when performed correctly, the term 'physical therapy' is very broad, and individuals are often left confused as to what this treatment actually involves.
 
Below is an explanation of how and why physical therapy is used to treat scoliosis, along with a closer look at the forms of physical therapy that we use here at our clinic:

Why is Physical Therapy Used to Treat Scoliosis?

Scoliosis patients may seek treatment via physical therapy for a number of reasons, including:
  • Avoiding the complications and physical limitations associated with surgery.
  • Improving body image by reducing the visibility of the curve and avoiding surgery scars.
  • Improving flexibility and mobility by strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine.
  • Relieving the pain caused by scoliosis (often experienced by scoliosis suffers who have undergone surgery).
  • Preventing curve progression using corrective techniques in a way that allows continued maintenance and improvement.

How Does Physical Therapy Work?

Physical therapy for scoliosis works by repeating a series of corrective movements and techniques, which are intended to limit restrictions, improve posture, strengthen the back muscles, and increase the patient's range of motion. All of this contributes towards reducing the level of pain experienced by the patient, along with improving their physical ability and correcting the visual symptoms of the condition.
 
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we achieve optimal results for each patient by assessing and treating their condition on an individual basis and by providing a range of targeted physical therapies that treat the various aspects of the condition. While the Schroth method forms the foundations of our treatment approach, this is complemented and supported by a range of other proven techniques, which work in unison to form our ScolioGold treatment programme.
 
To find out more about how physical therapy can be used to treat scoliosis, or to discuss the unique requirements of your condition, simply get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team today.
 
Further Reading: Meet Our Physiotherapists
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