What can be done for Scoliosis?
Must I have surgery if I have scoliosis?
No. Surgery is usually only indicated when the curve is bigger than 50 degrees, or is severely affecting one’s everyday activities or his / her quality of life. Majority of scoliosis cases do not require surgery. Surgery will only be considered when the curve continues to worsen in spite of bracing or exercises, and is progressing near or beyond 50 degrees.
The degrees of scoliosis curves are measured by Cobb’s angle.
One must be aware that there are complications with scoliosis surgery, such as stiff spine, spine muscle weakness and possible rods breakage. The spine will no longer grow again after scoliosis surgery, so if it is to be performed in growing children, it should be delayed as much as possible in order to preserve the growth of the developing spine.
What else can help control scoliosis besides surgery?
Besides surgery, the most common treatment is bracing and physiotherapy.
The purpose of using a brace is to control the progression of a curve, but not to eliminate it. Bracing is indicated when the scoliosis curve is between 25-40 degrees, and when the spine has not yet reached full maturity, which is usually between 13-15 years of age in girls, and 15-17 years in boys. In the case that though the curve is smaller than 25 degrees, but worsens more than 5 degrees within a period of 6 months, a brace is also recommended. To ensure the effectiveness of the brace, it needs to be worn 18-20 hours a day through the growing years.
Physiotherapy works to strengthen the weak muscles, to improve the flexibility of the shortened & tight tissues. It helps slow down the development of muscle imbalance and joint stiffness, and helps reduce back pain. It benefits individuals with scoliosis either are or are not on braces. The stiffer the curves are, the more strongly physiotherapy is recommended. Furthermore, physiotherapy enhances the correction achieved by braces during the bracing and after the brace is weaned off.