• What is Scoliosis

    The term “scoliosis” derives from the ancient Greek word “skolios” meaning curved or crooked. Scoliosis is described as a sideways curvature of the spine. However, this definition is misleading. Scoliosis represents a 3-dimensional change in the position and shape of the vertebrae. This leads to Poor Structural Alignment that can be identified by:

    • Uneven shoulders
    • Tilted head
    • Clothing may appear uneven
    • Rib or lumbar prominences “humps”
    • Differences in leg length
    • Quickly become out of breath with physical activity
    • One foot turned excessively out or in
    • Back muscle asymmetry

    Scoliosis is the most common spinal disorder in children and adolescents. Prevalence and risk of curve progression is significantly higher in females than males. The adolescent growth spurt is when it is typically first seen. This condition is hereditary. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that children and adolescents whose family members have scoliosis be checked early and on a regular basis.

    If there is any suspicion of scoliosis, then a screening can be performed by a health professional (certified physical therapist, MD, nurse) who if necessary can then refer you on to a specialist.

    After speaking with a family who had recently returned from a scoliosis clinic in Europe I was flabbergasted to learn that they start treating patients much earlier than we do in the States. Our European counterparts assess for scoliosis much more frequently. Additionally, nurses & doctors know to refer scoliosis patients on for specialized physical therapy care. Here in the United States this method for treating spinal curvatures has only existed for a little over a decade. In Germany & much of Europe it has been the gold standard for nearly a century. This is known as the Schroth Method.

    A specialized approach is necessary to safely & effectively treat scoliosis. The Schroth method is one of the longest standing and most research validated approaches to scoliosis rehabilitation. There are relatively few certified Schroth practitioners in the US. Dr. Shelton is one of the select physical therapists who have this certification and has been specializing in scoliosis since 2013. He received his training through the Barcelona Scoliosis Physical Therapy School (www.bspts.net).

    At ALIGN the Schroth Method is used to pursue Specific Goals:

    • Slow or Stop Curve Progression
    • Improve Upright Posture
    • Increase Breath Capacity
    • Relieve Pain
    • Increase Spine Flexibility
    • Avoid Surgery (whenever possible)
    • Improve Symmetry of the entire Muscular System
      • Balance your strength & flexibility
    • Decrease Organ Pressure

    Here at ALIGN the Schroth method is used to try and reduce or halt a curve from progressing. Schroth treatments can also markedly improve scoliotic posture. Scoliosis Specific Exercises are shown to be most helpful in the 10-30° range and can be helpful in larger curves as well. In the adolescent population with a curvature of 30° or more it is strongly recommended that appropriate bracing be considered to compliment & maximize the benefits of a Schroth scoliosis program. [Feel free to enquire regarding optimal comfort & effective brace options. alignwnc@gmail.com]

    We understand that our patients and their families live busy lives, for that reason we offer treatment session outside normal office hours. Limited Saturday appointments are available for families who travel longer distances and to accommodate the school schedule. Please call to request. Later evening appointments are also possible upon request.

    1 st Visit: Breathing Measurements, Posture Screening (pictures from multiple angles in front of a posture grid), Height Measurements, Review of x-rays, Answering of all Patient & Parent Questions, Full Spine & Extremity Evaluation (Identify ROM, flexibility, strength deficits). Depending on the length of your scheduled session, we may begin treatment, daily posture (sitting, standing, lying in bed) corrections & curve specific exercise instruction may be initiated.

    What does Schroth treatment look like at ALIGN?

    • Scoliosis Specific Exercises
      • As with any form of exercise we can influence & shape the human body. This applies to scoliosis specific exercises as they can reshape the body into a new posture.
      • It’s not just about exercising; it’s about doing the right exercises for your body!
        • 3-Dimensional Exercise
    • Unique Breathing Techniques
      • Rotational Angular Breathing is used to repositions the ribs which act as levers for moving the spine.
        • Oddly enough one of the most surprisingly helpful things patients learn is how to breath out of & into different portions of their ribcages.
    • Customized Core Strengthening
      • When performed correctly this can relieve pain and help train a whole new posture
      • Nothing offers more stability for the back than the abdominal muscles
      • Learn how to isolate different abdominal muscles based on your curve pattern.
        • This helps to Realign your Spine!
    •  3-D Postural Realignment
    • Specialized Manual Therapy Techniques (Hands on Help)
      • Joint mobilizations to improve spine flexibility in a scoliosis patient
      • Soft Tissue work & muscle tone resetting can be performed along the inside (concave) of your curves to allow for greater gains from the exercises.
      • Increase the depth of your breath

    If after reading this, you still have any questions then please contact me at ALIGN Specialized Body Care. (alignwnc@gmail.com or 828.891.0085)

    It is fairly standard to hear “well let’s just wait & see, we can measure the curve again in 6 months.” The problem with this approach is that the curve can increase during that period of time. Sometimes to the point that surgery may be the only other option.

    Other reasons to introduce safe exercises and posture improvement strategies for adolescents with scoliosis include:

    • Pain
    • Disability
    • Reduced quality of life
    • Negative body image & self-esteem
    • Cosmetic deformities
    • Early fatigue with exercise
    • Curve progression into adulthood leading to pain and premature spinal wear & tear.

    Unfortunately, here in the US it is not yet common knowledge that there is a world renowned non- surgical exercise approach to effectively manage scoliosis and possibly prevent a progression. The Schroth Method has helped thousands of crooked spines for nearly a century. Since many cases of scoliosis do worsen over time it is imperative that treatment begins early.

    3-dimensional scoliosis bracing can be performed by specially trained orthotists.  At ALIGN we communicate with orthotists in Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville and even DC. If you are from outside of these areas, we would be happy to communicate with your hometown orthotist and physician.