Learn more about scoliosis in preparation for the International Scoliosis Awareness Day on Saturday 24 June 2017

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spine deformity; more specifically it is defined as a lateral (sideways) deviation of the spine. However, it is a lot more complex. Scoliosis is actually a three-dimensional curve: the involved vertebrae (bones) of the spine shift laterally, rotate backward on the convex side (creating a hump) and change their sagittal (front to back) position.  

And if that’s all too confusing, let’s get to the nitty gritty…

Why is it important to be aware of scoliosis?

Scoliosis can affect people in a many ways:

  • Aesthetics – such as a hump
  • Pain
  • Emotional issues
  • Social issues e.g. not wanting to wear a swimsuit or shirt on the beach because of the way they look  
  • Postural issues resulting from scoliosis
  • More serious issues such as breathing problems

There can be many curve profiles in scoliosis and there is no known cure. Scoliosis can often be progressive (worsen) and can be affected by many factors; however, the chance of progression is increased relative to the severity of the curve and earlier age of onset.  Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial.  Most scoliosis is diagnosed in teenagers; however, it is possible for young children and adults to develop scoliosis. Awareness of scoliosis can result in earlier diagnosis and treatment, which can assist in reducing progression.

How can we diagnose scoliosis?

In years gone by, there were scoliosis checks in schools usually in year 7 and year 9, however, most are not in place anymore.

As mentioned previously, it is so important to pick scoliosis up early. If checks are not in place at your child(ren)’s school, It is important to check them yourself. Note any changes in posture or any asymmetries, and if you have any concerns we highly recommend seeking guidance from a health professional that specialises in scoliosis. The same goes for any adult that notices any asymmetries.

The diagnosis of scoliosis is made when the angle between the most tilted vertebrae (Cobb angle) involved in the curve is more than 10 degrees. At UprightCare we have a few techniques to assess for scoliosis including using a scoliometer to assess the degree of rotation, a simple plumb line to assess the offset from centre and a Formetric machine which scans the body with light to create a 3D reconstruction of the spine showing clinical analysis of the body and posture, scoliosis, and all forms of spinal deformities.

If we are concerned about a scoliosis patient we will refer the patient for a full body EOS scan to get accurate measurements. The EOS Imaging System is a low-dose, 3D imaging system that provides images (X-rays) of patients in natural standing positions.

How can you treat scoliosis?

Depending on the curve profile, the age of the patient, and how the scoliosis is affecting the patient, it may be treated using a few different methods:

  • The Schroth Method, which is conservative (non-surgical) management of scoliosis using 3D postural correction techniques and right- angled breathing.  The Schroth method is sometimes necessary even with surgery to assist with de-rotation of the spine.
  • Bracing may be needed in conjunction with the Schroth method
  • Surgery may be needed if the curve profile is large or if the health of the patient is being affected.

What is our aim when treating patients with scoliosis?

  • Decrease the progression (worsening) of the curve
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve posture
  • Increase functional tolerance
  • Improve quality of life

We are passionate about helping our patients with scoliosis. If you have any concerns or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.  It is never too late to feel good!

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Larry is a highly skilled physiotherapist who specialises in treating back and neck pain, postural issues and scoliosis. He is certified in Schroth and SEAS methods and through the Egoscue University. Larry has a background in elite gymnastics and springboard diving and also has many years experience in endurance running and triathlons. His specialist knowledge and techniques have seen him appointed as a gymnastics coach and physiotherapist at both the Olympics Games and Special Olympics.

His passion and driving philosophy is about achieving the best outcomes for his patients utilising an amalgam of the latest techniques and theories while recognising there may sometimes be a need for invasive procedures. Where deemed appropriate Larry will then refer to a specialist. To further his holistic understanding and approach, Larry is currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Spinal Deformity and regularly attends and speaks at international conferences and courses and clinics.

Fun fact: Larry is learning how to surf - so be careful next time you go to the beach! Qualifications: B.Sc (Physiotherapy); M.Sc. (Exercise Physiology); Advanced Certificates in Schroth (BSPTS) and Egoscue (PAS) and SEAS Larry is Level II certified (advanced) in the conservative treatment of Scoliosis based on the Schroth method. The training was conducted by Dr Manuel Rigo of the Barcelona School at Scoliosis Rehab Inc in Wisconsin. He has completed his SEAS scoliosis treatment training at ISICO in Milan. Larry has also spent time working with Dr Rigo in the Barcelona clinic. Larry also has advanced certificates in shoulder treatment, posture alignment therapy and acupuncture.