Scoliosis and The Schroth Method
Scoliosis is defined as a three dimensional curvature of the spine. This means that the spine rotates, extends, and side bends. It is often idiopathic in nature, meaning there is no clear cause as to what causes it. We know that certain genetics and conditions might predispose someone for scoliosis, but it doesn't mean it is a guarantee! Receiving a diagnosis of scoliosis or a related condition might feel shocking, scary and overwhelming at first. There are limited resources for patients and it can leave them searching the internet or seeking ineffective care for management.
A scoliotic spine is like a fingerprint. It is unique to the individual, therefore requires specific individualized training and programing to treat the pain, postural asymmetries and dysfunction associated with it. Alex has completed L1 of The Schroth Method. She previously worked at a spine specialty clinic in North Carolina, where worked alongside a wonderful team composed of a neurosurgeon, physicians assistants, physical therapists, and an orthotist, all specializing in treatment of unique spinal deformities.
A scoliosis or spinal deformity diagnosis does NOT mean you have to suffer! It also does not mean that you are destined to have surgical intervention, or have to stop doing the things you love. There are conservative options for management of these conditions. The Schroth Method is currently the gold standard for Physiotherapy Scoliosis-Specific Exercises (or PSSE). PSSE is part of a scoliosis care model that includes scoliosis specific education, scoliosis specific physical therapy exercises, observation or surveillance, psychological support and intervention, bracing and surgery. The Schroth Method involves patient education about their curve location, direction and clinical presentation, risk factors for progression, exercises to address their specific curve and alignment, and developing a plan for continued follow-up and management throughout the lifespan.
Pregnancy, Menopause, and Scoliosis
There is an evidence-based relationship between the hormonal changes that happen during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, and the severity of a spinal curve. Studies have shown that curves are at a higher risk of progressing (getting worse), during adolescence, pregnancy, and menopause. If you are a woman with scoliosis and looking to become pregnant, currently pregnant, or have had children, it is especially important to seek follow-up care and management of your scoliosis! If you or your adolescent has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, contact Alex today to see how physical therapy can help empower and educate, so that you may improve your understanding of your diagnosis, help make informed decisions, and better your quality of life!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who can benefit from The Schroth Method and Scoliosis specific exercises?
There is evidence to suggest that adolescents diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scolosis (AIS), are the best candidates for the Schroth Method to assist with pain, curve stabilization and reducing risk of progression, and overall improvements in postural awareness and alignment. Anyone that has been diagnosed with scoliosis or a spinal deformity has the potential to benefit from physical therapy! There is no one size fits all model for spinal conditions, so it is important to see a provider with a deeper understanding of various spinal presentations.
Can The Schroth Method help with congenital, juvenile or neuromuscular scoliosis? Or more complex spinal deformities?
The Schroth Method is an intensive model of therapy that maximizes motor learning and neuromuscular reeducation. Traditionally, it requires an ability to understand and process abstract thoughts, postural awareness, and dedication to daily home exercise program. Therefore, children under the age of 12, and those with cognitive, neurological, or other special needs might require more a more specialized approach to their plan of care, and benefit from providers with additional training in neuro and pediatric conditions. Alex recommends seeking out pediatric PT/OT/SLP for children that might fall under this umbrella.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager, and never had any follow-up care. Can I still benefit from physical therapy?
Yes! Treatment of adults looks slightly different, as their risk of progression is different than that of a skeletally immature adolescent. Treatment emphasizes pain management and function. The Schroth Method can still be utilized with adults, with modifications of certain exercises and principles to best meet the needs of the adult spine and abilities.
I have not had updating imaging or an x-ray of my spine in over a year, does this matter?
Yes and no. Treatment can be initiated without updated imaging, but imaging can be helpful in tailoring the exercises to your curve. It is also dependent on the age of the patient, and their clinical presentation (symptoms, pain, etc). If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, it is highly recommended you have an annual x-ray of your spine to monitor for progression. For juveniles and pre-pubescent adolescent patients, follow-up imaging should be done every 3-6 months as progression tends to occur more rapidly with hormonal fluctuations that take place during puberty.
My child is currently wearing a custom-fit brace for their scoliosis. Can they still participate in PT?
Absolutely! In fact, research shows that bracing in combination with physical therapy is the most effective form of conservative intervention for scoliosis, opposed to bracing OR physical therapy in isolation. They will remove their brace for PT sessions, and while performing their PT exercises at home.
Is there any equipment needed for The Schroth Method exercises?
Yes. There is a general equipment list found under the "products" section of this website. Alex will discuss your specific equipment needs during treatment. If you are unable to purchase all the equipment, we can discuss ways of using things you already have at home.