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Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that varies from what is considered the normal alignment. The spine may be visibly crooked or ribs may protrude in an unusual way. The curvature may cause back pain, but not in all cases. The person may have difficulty breathing because of the compression from the misaligned bones. Spinal curvature is designated as mild, moderate or severe. In some cases, non-surgical methods can be used to relieve discomfort and disability. These are generally more successful in adult patients than in children.
Bracing is one of the older methods of treating scoliosis. It has been used since the 1800s to aid in correcting spinal curvatures in adolescents. The theory is that the brace, generally made of metal or other materials, holds the spine in a straight position, allowing the bones to develop in a more normal conformation. Generally, it used in cases of a curvature of 25 to 40 degrees. This method can be successful with spinal curvatures in the
Physical therapy can be a helpful therapy for adults with scoliosis. These exercises can help to strengthen supporting muscles of the back to provide better posture and less strain. It can be helpful in reducing back pain due to pressure on vertebrae from incorrect alignment. The Schroth method is a system that helps to elongate the trunk to provide better alignment of the muscles and nerves, as well as improved cardio-vascular function.
In some cases of degenerative scoliosis, regular treatments of acupuncture can help the degree of deformity as well as assist in pain relief. Acupuncture is an ancient Asian system of healing that uses very thin needles to block nerve pathways along the body. These pathways are associated with certain areas of the body and are now being found to be helpful in treating a number of medical conditions. Acupuncture can help to correct the degree of curvature of the spine in degenerative cases of scoliosis and aid in pain control.
Injection of cortisone medications is also used to reduce pain from inflammation that often occurs with scoliosis curvatures. When the bones of the spine are misaligned, they can cause pressure on nerve pathways. Steroid injections help to calm inflamed nerves and tissues, providing relief. However, these injections cannot be given continuously because of the likelihood of side effects. Because of these effects, injections are often used with other therapies to provide relief for those with pain.
Massage has also been found to be a useful nonsurgical treatment for scoliosis patients. The manipulation of tissues, helps muscles to relax, improves blood circulation and reduces tension that often accompany the misalignment of the spinal structures. It can also help to provide greater movement and flexibility of the spine.