Treating Scoliosis: A Manual Physical Therapists Perspective

Matthew Silvaggio, MSPT

With an estimated 6 million Americans being affected by scoliosis, it is a condition that affects the physical and emotional lives of many individuals1. Scoliosis can affect infants, adolescents and adults alike and females are more likely to suffer from scoliotic curves that require treatment. The vast majority of these curves are classified as idiopathic or of an unknown cause. People with scoliosis can suffer from pain in their neck, mid back and lumbar spine depending on where their curves are and their severity. They can present with one shoulder or pelvis being notably higher than the other side. They can suffer from weakness and decreased tolerance of recreational activities and household tasks, particularly those that involve bending and lifting. Scoliosis can also affect people’s breathing upon exertion or even at rest. This depends on the severity of the curve and its presence in the mid back where it can affect rib mobility. For adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis and curves with increased angles, they are prescribed back braces that are meant to help slow the progression of the curve. For adolescents with smaller curves, they often develop pain during their adult life from years of compensating and being unaware of the segments of immobility in their hips, pelvis, spine, shoulders and neck.

As Manual Physical Therapists, we offer a comprehensive orthopedic treatment approach that takes into account all of the areas stated above. An integral aspect of this approach is the functional manual therapy techniques that we utilize to assist the patient with their joint and soft tissue dysfunctions along with deficient neuromuscular strength and endurance. For example, with low back pain and decreased spine mobility, using soft tissue and joint mobilizations to the ribs and sacroiliac joints can improve mobility of the lumbar spine and thereby improve symptoms as well. We also assist the patient in understanding where their pain is coming from and what may be contributing factors to their specific pain presentation. Patient education to heighten their awareness is critical to the rehabilitation process because patients need to learn self-management strategies that will include postural recommendations for sitting, standing, and sleeping positions. Also included in this education is body mechanic training so that the patient can learn how faulty mechanics contribute significantly to their symptoms and how safe mechanics make you inherently stronger and experience less discomfort. Lastly, patients with scoliosis will receive safe and appropriate flexibility and strengthening exercises to improve their tolerance of everyday and recreational activities so they can return to a healthy physical lifestyle again!

Matt Silvaggio, MSPT has been practicing across a broad scope of physical therapy settings since graduating from Nazareth College of Rochester, NY in 2003.  His experience has been shaped by working in acute rehabilitation, home health, orthopedic private practice as well as sports medicine settings.
 
Elite Health Services, located in Old Greenwich, (and now Westport!) CT is a world-class provider of certified functional manual physical therapy, personal fitness, golf & triathlon performance training, massage therapy and wellness related services. Our team of highly skilled and dedicated professionals take a no-excuses approach to providing exceptional care and delivering exceptional results. To learn more visit www.EliteHealthServices.

 

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