Scoliosis Treatment Options
There are 3 common recommendations for scoliosis in the traditional medical environment: observation, bracing, and surgery.
Observation: Traditionally known as the “wait and see” approach. This often happens when a scoliosis is detected in a young child, but the curve is not large enough to recommend traditionally more invasive treatments such as the Boston Brace or surgery. Unfortunately this method essentially leaves the scoliosis “untreated” and if progression does occur, leaves little opportunity for better correction without more aggressive treatment. Smaller curves respond better to correction and there are several factors that contribute to the likelihood of progression. (See Pediatric Scoliosis)
Bracing: The most common brace utilized is the Boston Brace. The Boston brace is a “stabilizing brace” that uses 3-point pressure to hold the scoliosis in place which unfortunately means that correction is not the goal as much as reducing progression. It is heavy, closes up the back making it more difficult to wear and can often lead to muscle atrophy.
Surgery: When required, surgery is an important and often can be a life changing procedure. Surgery is not recommended on the degree of curve alone; there are other important factors to consider such as, the patients age, the balance of the spine, the potential growth and many other factors. As a guide,surgery can be indicted for some curves as low as 40 degrees, but in some cases curves of up to 60 degrees may not require surgery. Compared to surgery in children it is much more difficult to make correction in the spine of an adult.
Surgery in adults is often more complicated and risky. One issue in particular that causes difficulty is if a patient has osteoporosis. When the bones are weakened by osteoporosis it makes attaching rods and bones grafts a more difficult task. Surgery is also not a guarantee of pain relief, but in some cases is the only option when both traditional and conservative care have failed.
CBP (Chiropractic BioPhysics ©)
Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) is a chiropractic technique that is aimed specifically at improving abnormal curvature in conjunction with improved posture. This technique is the most researched of the chiropractic techniques available and requires special training and certification. In smaller curves, typically less than 20 degrees, this treatment can be used option alone. With larger curves it can utilized in combination with bracing. This treatment involves chiropractic adjustments, specific scoliosis exercises, and 3 point traction designed to help reduce the curve while improving posture. In adults, this treatment can be very helpful for pain management and improved posture.
In the past chiropractors have advocated treatment of subluxation with adjustments for scoliosis. However it is generally well accepted that adjustments cannot stop or slow a progressive scoliosis. The adjustments may be important in some cases to maintain better function of the spine, help mobility and give pan relief but it is important to note that it will not change the deformity of the spine. Similar myths are the use
Scolibrace is the most advanced bracing system available as it is developed from a modern 3D perspective and is custom made using a 3D scanner and brace design technology. This allows the brace to be “super corrective” compared to the Boston brace which is a “stabilizing brace”. This leads to not only better cosmetic improvements than the Boston brace but it can actually straighten the curve. The scolibrace also helps to retrain the muscles of the spine versus the muscle atrophy commonly associated with the Boston brace.
The scolibrace is comfortable to wear and is not highly visible under clothing. It is easy to sleep in and care for and opens in the front versus the back making it easier to put on. There are two main braces utilized for lateral scoliosis as well as a kyphosis brace. The Scolinight brace is recommended for smaller curves and is worn only at night. The Scolibrace is recommended for larger curves to help reduce the deformity and help to prevent surgery as much as possible.
The Scolibrace can be used in various ways in adults:
- It can be worn temporary to give patients pain relief during certain activities or situations and worn for support. For example some scoliosis sufferers that develop pain during exercise choose to wear it during exercise or while at the gym.
- It can be used as an intensive rehabilitation device to try and strengthen the posture and muscles allowing the body to maintain a corrected posture giving medium to long term relief.
- It can be worn on an ongoing basis for the most severe cases where there is spine collapse but the brace offers a reduction in pain and support.