Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. Instead on of the spine being straight when viewed from the back, there is a curve to one side or the other or a combination of curves. Scoliosis is generally classed as those curves that are severe or cause symptoms. They can be idiopathic although there are other causes. They may occur due to an irregularity such as a short leg, or due to bad posture or increased muscle use on the dominant side of the body. Sometimes it can be due to abnormalities or disease of the bones, soft tissue or nerves associated with the spine. Minor curves are normal in the local population and do not necessarily need treatment. They can however cause discomfort in the back or neck and treatment will relieve symptoms.
Abnormal spinal curves require a spinal and posture assessment. If the curve is severe, a specialists opinion may be sought. All children should be assessed for scoliosis before they finish growing. If this is diagnosed early, treatment is much more effective. Treatment often consists of an appropriate exercise program, treatment and advice in order to minimize the curve and keep it mobile to avoid complications. Severe scoliosis may cause wedging of the bony vertebral segments as well as stiffness, and treatment may be needed during flare-ups. Maintenance treatment for spinal curvatures is encouraged to ensure full range and function in the back and neck.
Physiotherapists have specific training in the treatment of scoliosis and can assist in setting up a home program to self manage as well as provide maintenance treatment when needed.