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Scoliosis and Conservative Physical Therapy | Image Courtesy of Emilio Vittoriosi via Unsplash
Scoliosis and Conservative Physical Therapy | Image Courtesy of Emilio Vittoriosi via Unsplash

June is Scoliosis Awareness Month! 

Scoliosis is a 3D curvature of the spine.  According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2-3% of the US population currently have some form of scoliosis. 

Types of Scoliosis

There are many different types.  There is juvenile scoliosis starting at a young age, or adult-onset scoliosis.  It can be categorized as congenital, neuromuscular, or most common form idiopathic scoliosis. 

  • Congenital scoliosis - some type of deformity causing irregular alignment 
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis - neurological disease leading to asymmetries 
  • idiopathic scoliosis - (unknown origin)

It can also be broken down into functional scoliosis or structural scoliosis. Structural scoliosis may be from some other spinal deformities, such as an extra rib, causing an uneven growth of the spine. Functional scoliosis may be from an external cause such as a pelvic mal-alignment issue causing a shortened leg, or imbalances in the spinal muscles causing tightness on one side. 

If left untreated, progressive scoliosis can lead to pain, breathing difficulties (decreased lung capacity), and can cause some type of limitation at work, home or fitness exercise. 

Can Conservative Physical Therapy help? 

Can conservative physical therapy help? YES. One randomized controlled trial found that physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises improved the angle of deformity with those with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Furthermore, SOSORT* 2016 Guidelines concluded that,

current evidence suggests that conservative treatment for scoliosis is effective at stopping curve from progression, as well as improving the curves at skeletal maturity."

The biggest priority is preventing or minimizing further progression of the curve. There are standing and sitting posture assessments, ergonomic assessment, manual therapy to address the soft tissue that may be implicated,and pain-management techniques we can apply and/or educate on. 

There are other types of treatment, such as bracing and surgical treatment (fusion) that can help with more advanced scoliosis. 

Be on the lookout for Part 2 of Scoliosis Awareness: Scoliosis and the Pelvic Floor! 

*SOSORT - (International Scientific Society on Scoliosis Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Treatment)


What Our Patients Have to Say


Testimonial by Amanda W.

Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!

-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Jamie M.

I have been going to see Heather for a while now, and I can't tell you enough how much she has improved my quality of life. Heather specializes in issues like pelvic floor, but I see her for other orthopedic issues.

I have a lot of chronic joint pain and dysfunction issues (back, hips, neck) that require that have ongoing physical therapy maintenance. The effects of my problem joints/areas overlap and interconnect with each other in complex ways, so helping me requires really having a complete understanding of the entire skeletal and muscular system. Pain does not always appear where the problem actually is, the human body is a twisty, many-layered puzzle. I have an exercise program I do at home and I am very functional, but there are just something things I need a PT to help me out with.

Read more: Testimonial by Jamie M.

Testimonial by J.H.

My last appointment with Heather was over 6 years ago but I still think of her every day. I don’t take for granted that I can easily get out of bed, care for my two active and busy young boys, run, play tennis, clean my house, or sit at a desk for several hours at a time. None of these tasks were easy for me before meeting Heather. Eight years ago my car was struck from behind by a tractor trailer that was estimated to have been speeding. I spent 3 years working with different PTs and Drs trying to heal and move on with my life. When I became pregnant and the hormone relaxin that “relaxes” all the joints of the body and the additional weight gain erased all my progress and I was suddenly in a lot of pain again. My OB sent me to Heather for one last try.

Read more: Testimonial by J.H.

Testimonial by M.N., age 28

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

I was diagnosed with vaginismus 4 years ago. I never heard of such medical condition until after I got married. At first my husband and I didn't know what to do, we didn't know what the issues were or how to overcome it. Being born and raised in Armenia and being Christian I wasn't that open about talking to sex with others and so it wasn't easy to seek help. But eventually I went to an Ob-Gyn and luckily she knew about the medical condition (not many doctors know). She referred me to a physical therapist and I couldn't believe it and thought it's something I can handle myself. I ordered a kit from vaginismus.com and started practicing with dilators. There was some small progress but wasn't much helpful.

Read more: Testimonial by M.N., age 28

Testimonial by M.M.

My husband and I were married for 5 years and unable to have intercourse, but I never knew why. After numerous awful experiences at doctor’s offices (where many doctors told me I “just needed to relax”), a surgery that didn’t fix the problem, and a year of owning dilators that didn’t get me anywhere, someone finally referred me to Heather for Physical Therapy. I finally had answers and information from someone who knew exactly what I was dealing with!

Read more: Testimonial by M.M.

Testimonial by S.S., age 54

Heather is the best! I saw her today for terrible hip/groin pain. I was so impressed with the safety measures in place and felt completely safe . Thanks for the healing hands.

S.S., age 54

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