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Treating Scoliosis

Joe Fleming provides advice about everything you need to know about treating scoliosis.

Between six and nine million people (2-3% of the population) suffer from scoliosis. This condition is usually diagnosed during adolescence, but plenty of adults have scoliosis and do not realize it.

Whether you already know you have scoliosis or think you might, this article can help you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about scoliosis and what you can do to treat it.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis occurs when there is an abnormal curvature of the spine. People with advanced cases of scoliosis have a spine that takes on a visible "S" shape. People with more mild cases still have an abnormal curve, but it is not as obvious.

Scoliosis Symptoms

Scoliosis comes with several symptoms, including the following:

  • Upper back or neck pain
  • Uneven shoulders, with one or both shoulder blades sticking out
  • Elevation of one or both hips
  • Uneven rib cage
  • Uneven waist
  • Changes in the appearance or texture of the skin over the spine
  • The body leans to one side
  • Diminished pulmonary (lung) function

What Causes Scoliosis?

There are three main types of scoliosis:

Idiopathic Scoliosis

This is the most common type of scoliosis. Idiopathic means that the exact cause is unknown. Approximately 80% of all cases of scoliosis are considered to be idiopathic.

Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis occurs in utero and is present at birth. This type of scoliosis is usually detected at a very young age.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs as a result of a muscular or neurological disease. Common conditions that cause this type of scoliosis include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Injuries to the spinal cord
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Spina bifida
  • Atrophy of the spinal muscles

Neuromuscular scoliosis progresses faster than idiopathic scoliosis, and surgery is often required to treat it.

How is Scoliosis Diagnosed?

Scoliosis can be diagnosed in many ways, including the following:

  • Physical examination
  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Spinal Radiograph

Doctors will measure the spine's curve using a method known as the Cobb Method. They will diagnose the severity based on how many degrees the spine deviates to one side. A curvature of more than 10 degrees warrants a positive diagnosis, and curves more sumptuous than 25-30 degrees are considered significant. Curves that are great than 45-50 degrees are considered severe.

Scoliosis is also often diagnosed in schools using a method known as the Adam's Forward Bend Test. The patient will lean forward and bend their waist to 90 degrees. This makes it easy to spot abnormal curvatures or asymmetry.

Back pain is usually the first symptom that people notice when it comes to idiopathic scoliosis.

Whether you think it is caused by scoliosis or another condition, remember that a proper diagnosis of back pain diagnosis is essential. Do not just apply random treatment advice without taking steps to figure out what is causing your pain.

How is Scoliosis Treated?

Depending on the severity of your scoliosis, there are a few different treatment options available. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Bracing -- this is typically reserved for children or adolescents whose spines have not yet fully developed
  • Chiropractic adjustments to realign the spine
  • Yoga and physical therapy exercise to improve flexibility, posture, and muscle strength
  • Surgery -- is typically reserved for curvatures that exceed 45-50 degrees

Exercises to Treat Scoliosis

Surgery can correct abnormal curvatures of the spine by about 50 per cent, but it does not necessarily prevent progression in the future. The surgery is also quite invasive, so it is reserved for severe curvatures.

If the curvature of your spine is not considered severe, you are better off trying alternative methods like exercise and chiropractic adjustments.

Below are five exercises that can help strengthen the postural muscles and correct imbalances that exacerbate abnormal spinal curvatures.

Spider Stretch

Stand up straight, facing a wall. Extend your hands and place them on the wall at chest height. Engage your abdominal muscles and walk your fingers slowly up the wall. When the arms are extended, walk the fingers back down and return to the beginning position. Repeat five times.

Lying Pelvic Tilts

Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and arms at your sides. Engage your glutes and abdominals and press the lower back into the floor, curling your pelvic bone up toward your chest. Hold this pose for about five seconds, then release and repeat 10-12 times.

Cat-Cow Pose

Start in a quadruped position with knees, hips, wrists, and shoulders aligned. Pull your abdominals in and make sure your neck is neutral.

As you inhale, arch your back and lift your tailbone and chin to gaze up at the ceiling, dropping your stomach toward the floor. Then, exhale and tuck your chin and tailbone in, arching your back in the opposite direction.

Repeat 10-12 times.

Back Extension

For this exercise, you will need a stability ball. Position the ball so that your feet are braced against a wall. Lie facedown so that your stomach and quadriceps are on the ball.

Interlace your fingers behind your head and lower your whole torso onto the ball. Then, engage your abdominals and lift yourself as though you are doing a reverse sit-up. Keep your abdominals engaged and avoid over-arching your back. Repeat 10-12 times.


Lie face down on the ground with your arms extended in front of you, palms facing each other. Inhale, then, as you exhale, engage the muscles of your back body to lift your head, hands, arms, legs, and feet off the ground. Only your torso should be touching the floor. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then repeat 8-10 times.

Final Thoughts

Scoliosis can be painful and frustrating, but there are many ways to treat it. Keep these exercises in mind, along with all the other information about scoliosis, and you will be on your way to feeling better before you know it!

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FLEMING, J. (2018) Treating Scoliosis [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. To inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health, and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces, and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.