Scoliosis is the most common type of spinal deformity in children and adolescents. It is often defined as the lateral tilt of the spine. However, it is a complex and three-dimensional deformity, and its treatment is challenging. Most of the time, the problem appears in the growth spurt and has no apparent cause. In this situation, it is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. This condition affects 2-3% of the general population and is more common in girls (7 times more girls than boys).

The condition is progressive and does not have a complete cure, but proper treatment prevents its evolution and improves the individual’s mobility. During therapy, the physiotherapy professional must include reinforcement techniques in order to generate new learning in posture. By joining different practices, it is possible to provide the patient with personalized and more efficient care.

Treatment differs depending on the degree of scoliosis. In general, curvature up to 20 degrees can be contained through physical therapy interventions. Between 20 degrees and 45 degrees, it is necessary to wear a vest and physiotherapy. When the person presents a curvature above 45 degrees – and if the curve has not stabilized yet – the recommendation is for surgical intervention, in addition to physiotherapy sessions for the rehabilitation process.

Understanding the assessment and treatment process

First, the patient will undergo a detailed and specific evaluation.  From X-ray examinations to postural and instrument testing. This first step is critical to understanding the severity of the curvature and which exercises will be most effective in treating scoliosis.

After this analysis, individual treatment is started based on the diagnostics.  Recent studies show that this type of treatment is completely effective in cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with mild or moderate curves.

The third step of the treatment consists of filming the exercise series.  An exclusive protocol for the patient to reproduce, daily at home, for about 30 minutes, the exercises that will be essential for strengthening the spine and reprogramming the brain.

Is it possible to treat scoliosis with exercise?

Yes. Specific Physiotherapeutic Exercises are recommended as the first treatment in light and moderate curves, with or without use of a brace.

What are specific physical therapy exercises for scoliosis?

They are exercises based on the three-dimensional self-correction of the spine. In the conservative treatment of scoliosis with specific exercises, the patient is taught to make corrections and maintain corrected posture in daily activities. Generally, a mirror is used in the learning process, in addition to correct breathing to assist in correction. The repetition of exercises at home is of fundamental importance for automating the corrected posture. Treatment success depends on patient and family education.

When are specific physical therapy exercises indicated for scoliosis?

The main indication of exercises to correct scoliosis are light to moderate curves in growing children and adolescents. Exercises can be part of the brace treatment, depending on the bone growth forecast. If there is no longer growth forecast, the need to wear a vest is eliminated. The monitoring of patients in the growing phase with scoliosis is carried out by an orthopaedist who specializes in spine and by a physiotherapist.

Thus, in the conservative treatment of scoliosis in growing children and adolescents, it is indicated:

  • 10 to 25º curves – exercises only, no vest.
  • curves from 25 to 45º – exercises associated with vest.

Repeating the exercises at home is essential for successful treatment.

The main objectives of specific exercises for scoliosis are:

  • Prevent progression (worsening) of the curve.
  • Prevent postural collapse.
  • Prevent or treat respiratory dysfunction (shortness of breath).
  • Prevent or treat back pain.
  • Improve aesthetics and quality of life.

There are scientific studies that report the superiority of specific exercises over other therapies for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.

Can people with scoliosis play sports?

Yes. The practice of sports activity provides flexibility, strength, balance and coordination, in addition to positively influencing the child’s psychological and social aspects. However, it is important to emphasize that sports activity is not a treatment for scoliosis.