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Physical Therapy for Scoliosis


Scoliosis is a problematic back condition that can negatively impact a person’s health. When left untreated, and if the condition is severe enough, it can cause a patient extensive back pain, limit flexibility, and ultimately have additional health impacts. Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and treatment, scoliosis doesn’t have to be a major handicap. Indeed, scoliosis patients can benefit from an array of scoliosis treatments. 

Scoliosis bracing is one of the most common treatments for scoliosis. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the spine curve. However, treating scoliosis usually requires embracing various therapeutic methods to help people heal their spine and recover. Physical therapy (PT) for scoliosis is a highly popular treatment method. When done right and combined with other treatment methods, physical therapists can help a person restore flexibility, reduce the curvature of their spine, and improve overall functionality. 


What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder of the spine. This condition is usually attributed to specific genetics or chronic conditions, including muscular dystrophy. However, scoliosis is not usually the result of an accident or injury, although an accident can worsen an existing condition. Generally speaking, a person is born with scoliosis or the condition leading to scoliosis. 

Specifically, scoliosis is a curve in the spine. The more severe the curve, the more likely you will have pain, physical deformities, or reduced function. Scoliosis is generally considered a minor disease, usually noticed in children or teenagers, and often a condition that disappears on its own. Bracing is a common and non-invasive form of treatment for scoliosis. In this treatment, a medical practitioner will prescribe a patient a brace – similar to how bracers work for teeth. This brace will help correct spine misalignments and help bring the spine back into a natural condition. 


Scoliosis Diagnosis

Individuals diagnosed with scoliosis are often given regular monitoring and diagnostic examinations, including X-rays, to see if a brace works or if a condition worsens. Surgery may be necessary in extreme cases or major deformities of the spine. Thankfully, treating scoliosis does not usually hit these levels of severity, and only about 10% of scoliosis patients usually need such an extreme form of treatment. 


Are There Different Types of Scoliosis?

There are three types of scoliosis. They are:


Idiopathic scoliosis

This is the most common type of scoliosis, and it is the diagnosis when the other two types – congenital and neuromuscular – have been ruled out. An estimated 80% of all cases are idiopathic scoliosis.


Congenital scoliosis

This is a type of scoliosis that occurs when an embryo is still developing and may occur in any of the vertebrae of the spine. The result of congenital scoliosis is that different parts of the spine grow at different rates. As a result, damages from congenital scoliosis are more pronounced and visible than other forms of scoliosis, leading to a younger diagnosis and an easier time diagnosing the disease in children. 


Neuromuscular scoliosis

As noted above, scoliosis is often a side effect of another disease, like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. This type of scoliosis is the type that occurs with a diagnosis of one of these conditions. As such, neuromuscular scoliosis is considered “secondary” to a main disease. 

There is not necessarily a “better” or “worse” form of scoliosis. However, all forms of scoliosis are capable of causing back pain, damaging the spine, and may result in the need for numerous methods of intervention.


How is Scoliosis Diagnosed?

Scoliosis is usually visible in the form of a curve of the spine. Trained medical staff, including a nurse or physical therapist, can often detect scoliosis in a person. Other physical signs include high shoulder blades, hips, or a changed physical appearance that makes it appear that one part of the body is jutting forward or not aligned. Indeed, some sort of physical asymmetry is usually the most common form of scoliosis. 


Regular Screenings

Scoliosis screenings are often a part of children’s regular medical checks. In addition, some schools will conduct regular scoliosis screening. These tests can often diagnose the condition before a doctor will even notice. 


Diagnosis Tools

In some cases, a practitioner may prescribe more advanced diagnosis tools, like an X-ray or another imaging tool. This will be done to determine if scoliosis is present and how severe it is. An X-ray can help to identify scoliosis treatment options and help children or adults determine the best course of treatment for the condition.


Can Scoliosis Permanently Damage the Spine if Left Untreated?

There’s no set answer to this question, as the answer ultimately depends on the severity of a person’s scoliosis. With proper exercises, including bracing or physical therapy, an individual can usually fully recover from scoliosis and avoid any long-term damage to their health. However, studies have found that, if left untreated, moderate to severe scoliosis can cause long-term back pain. In these instances, scoliosis can reduce a person’s movement and cause other health challenges, including problems with the heart or lungs.

That being said, it’s important to appropriately define what “untreated” means. All scoliosis does not need surgery or intensive PT programming. There are often exercises and bracing that are low impact and relatively non-disruptive to a person’s life. These exercises can go a long way to protecting an individual’s health and keeping them from becoming a hospital patient. However, what is important is that a person sees an appropriate physical therapist, doctor, or other medical professional. 


How Can Physical Therapy (PT) for Scoliosis Help?

Here’s the good news: Physical therapy for scoliosis can be incredibly helpful in managing your condition and ensuring that any type of scoliosis is properly addressed and remediated. With the care of a physical therapist, you can improve your health and functionality.

Physical therapy for scoliosis can help in many ways. These include:

  • PT can strengthen your back muscles. When done right, physical therapy exercises can ensure that you stretch, build muscle mass, and improve flexibility.
  • Physical therapy can correct problems with your posture and movement. This, in turn, can lead to more efficient and less painful body movements, allowing your body to develop more naturally and healthily.

A Physical therapist will understand the specific exercises, stretching, and mobilization techniques that can lead to a straighter spine and healthier back. 

Physical therapy for scoliosis can be incredibly helpful, but it is important to note that no physical therapy will work if you only practice during your physical therapy sessions. Exercise sessions are required to give you the guidance and healing you need. 


Most Common Scoliosis Treatment

It is worth noting that all of these benefits make physical therapy among the most commonly used treatments for scoliosis. As a result, you will want to find a physical therapist who is extremely familiar with and well-versed in the specific benefits of PT for scoliosis. 

At Boston Sports Medicine, we provide physical therapy at various locations across Massachusetts. We also have physical therapists who are experts in various treatments, including scoliosis. As a result, we can work with you to develop specific exercises and rehabilitation programs that can reduce your pain and help you get your life back. 

Also Read: Luxury Physical Therapy


What is the Schroth Method For Your Back?

One of the most common forms of exercise and physical therapy for scoliosis is Schroth Method. The Schroth Method seeks to arrest the spine curve that may worsen with scoliosis. 

The Schroth Method is a series of exercises – monitored and prescribed by a physical therapist – designed specifically for each patient. A physical therapist can help patients develop routines that strengthen spinal and back muscles when done right. The Schroth Method also involves teaching specific breathing exercises to increase bodily awareness and restore symmetry. 


How Can The Schroth Method Help?

A person who completes the Schroth Method can expect better posture, reduced asymmetry, and an easier time completing exercises in general. 


What Other Forms of Treatment Can Help With Scoliosis?

As noted above, physical therapy is not the only potential therapy option a patient may seek to protect their health. In many cases, a physical therapist may work with a patient to not only conduct rehabilitation and exercise sessions but to help them find other options of PT or therapy that will help them get rid of their scoliosis and reduce their back pain. 


Using a Scoliosis Brace

Using a brace is among the most common and least invasive forms of treatment for a scoliosis patient. A brace is often used for individuals who at least have moderate scoliosis. A brace may also be used in conjunction with surgery or upon the advice of a physical therapist. Indeed, the type of brace used and the amount of time it is worn may ultimately depend on the recommendations of a physical therapist and how well a patient performs during physical therapy. While the specifics vary, a brace is usually worn for at least 12 hours daily. In addition, a brace is typically used if a patient is still growing, and the brace can help guide the patient’s growth. 


Scoliosis Surgery

Surgery may be the most viable treatment option in more severe cases and when less invasive treatment methods fail. However, surgery is usually only used when patients have a minimum 45-degree angle in their spine. In these instances, PT sessions or other less invasive methods, like bracing or Schroth Method exercises, may not be helpful. Surgery is typically a form of spinal fusion when two or more vertebrae are fused. At a minimum, it often allows the spine curve to stop growing, resulting in vast improvements to a patient’s overall health. 


Do I Have to Go to Physical Therapy After Scoliosis Surgery?

It is worth noting that surgery is an important step in scoliosis treatment, not the final one. Surgery can go a long way toward improving health. However, an individual will likely need various physical therapy sessions to recover fully. They will likely need to see a physical therapist for some time and complete various exercises at home. This treatment must be prescribed by a certified physical therapist and monitored under a doctor’s care. Physical therapy may help patients recover from surgery, strengthen their core and back muscles, and ultimately recover their health. 

As you would expect for any surgery, the PT may be very extensive, and a patient must work closely with a physical therapist to find the right exercises for them. In addition, this customized exercise program must also be adjusted to account for potential gains or setbacks in a patient’s recovery. 


What is Physical Therapy Like?

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the overall management of scoliosis. It is a non-invasive and conservative approach that focuses on improving strength, flexibility, and posture. Through targeted exercises and therapeutic techniques, physical therapists can help patients alleviate pain, correct imbalances, and enhance their overall well-being.


Strengthen Back Muscles

One of the primary goals of physical therapy for scoliosis is to strengthen the back muscles. Stronger muscles can provide better support to the spine and help reduce the curvature. Physical therapists will develop exercise programs tailored to each individual’s needs, taking into account their age, condition severity, and overall health. These exercises often involve a combination of stretching, strengthening, and stabilization exercises to promote proper alignment and muscular balance.


Correcting Posture & Movement

In addition to strengthening exercises, physical therapists also emphasize correcting posture and movement patterns. They work closely with patients to improve body mechanics, ensuring that movements are performed with optimal alignment and minimizing strain on the spine. By teaching proper body mechanics and providing postural education, physical therapists empower patients to make positive changes in their daily activities, such as sitting, standing, and lifting, which can contribute to long-term spinal health.


Exercises & Breathing Techniques

The Schroth Method, mentioned earlier, is a highly regarded approach within the field of physical therapy for scoliosis. This method focuses on three-dimensional exercises that target the rotational component of the spinal curvature. By combining specific exercises with breathing techniques, the Schroth Method aims to restore symmetry and improve postural alignment. Physical therapists trained in the Schroth Method can guide patients through these specialized exercises and provide ongoing support throughout the treatment process.


Tailed Approach For Each Patient

It is important to note that physical therapy for scoliosis is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each patient’s treatment plan should be tailored to their unique needs and condition. Physical therapists work closely with other healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care, such as orthopedic specialists, to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment.


Bracing as a Treatment

Beyond physical therapy, bracing and surgery are additional treatment options for scoliosis. Bracing is often recommended for moderate cases of scoliosis, where the goal is to prevent further progression of the curvature during growth. A physical therapist can guide patients on the proper use and duration of wearing a brace, as well as provide exercises that complement the bracing process.


Surgery as a Treatment

In more severe cases or when other treatment methods have been ineffective, surgery may be necessary. Spinal fusion surgery aims to correct the curvature by fusing two or more vertebrae together. While surgery can be transformative, it requires a significant recovery period and often involves post-operative physical therapy to restore strength, mobility, and function.


Guidance from Qualified Professionals

It is essential for individuals with scoliosis to seek professional guidance and treatment from qualified physical therapists and healthcare providers. They have the expertise to design personalized treatment plans and monitor progress over time. By working closely with a multidisciplinary team, patients can maximize the benefits of physical therapy and improve their long-term outcomes.

At Boston Sports Medicine, we understand the complexities of scoliosis and the importance of comprehensive care. Our experienced physical therapists are dedicated to providing individualized treatment plans that address the specific needs of each patient. We utilize evidence-based practices and state-of-the-art techniques to deliver the highest quality care. If you or a loved one is seeking effective physical therapy for scoliosis, contact us today to schedule a consultation and start the journey toward improved spinal health and overall well-being.


Where Can I Find Scoliosis Treatment Near Me?

When left untreated, scoliosis can be painful and debilitating. Thankfully, with the right physical therapy, children and adults can recover from this condition, reduce back pain, and have a completely healthy and functional life.

If you are looking for the best physical therapy for scoliosis, contact Boston Sports Medicine today. At Boston Sports Medicine, we offer an array of physical therapy and have physical staff who have extensive experience when it comes to managing your health care and helping you treat scoliosis. Don’t wait another day: Contact us today to get the physical therapy for scoliosis you need and deserve. 



Physical therapy for scoliosis is a highly effective treatment method that can significantly improve the health and functionality of individuals with this condition. Scoliosis, characterized by a curve in the spine, can cause pain, physical deformities, and reduced function if left untreated. However, with proper diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan that includes physical therapy, scoliosis patients can restore flexibility, reduce the curvature of their spine, and improve overall functionality.


Benefits of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy offers several benefits for scoliosis patients. It helps strengthen the back muscles, correct posture and movement, and promote a straighter spine and healthier back. By working with a skilled physical therapist, individuals can engage in exercises, stretching, and mobilization techniques tailored to their specific needs. It is important to note that consistent exercise sessions outside of physical therapy sessions are crucial for achieving optimal results.


Schroth Method of Physical Therapy

The Schroth Method is a commonly used form of physical therapy for scoliosis. It consists of individualized exercises and breathing techniques that strengthen spinal and back muscles, improve posture, and restore symmetry. Additionally, other treatment options such as bracing and surgery may be recommended depending on the severity of the scoliosis.


Our Expert Team

At Boston Sports Medicine, we understand the importance of specialized care for scoliosis patients. Our team of expert physical therapists can provide personalized treatment plans to reduce pain and help individuals regain their quality of life. Whether it’s through physical therapy, bracing, or other therapeutic interventions, our goal is to ensure that patients receive the comprehensive care they need.


Contact Us Today for Scoliosis Treatment!

If you or a loved one is seeking scoliosis treatment, don’t hesitate to contact Boston Sports Medicine. We are dedicated to helping individuals overcome the challenges of scoliosis and achieve optimal health through effective physical therapy. Take the first step towards a pain-free and functional life by reaching out to us today.  


Frequently Asked Questions:


1)  How common is back pain and what biopsychosocial factors are associated with back pain in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis?

Back pain is relatively common among individuals with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Studies have shown that up to 40-60% of adolescents with scoliosis experience some degree of back pain. Various biopsychosocial factors can contribute to back pain in these patients. Biomedical factors such as the severity and location of the spinal curvature, muscle imbalances, and spinal deformities can play a role. Psychosocial factors like anxiety, depression, and body image concerns may also influence the experience of back pain. Furthermore, social factors such as limited physical activity, reduced participation in sports or recreational activities, and the psychosocial impact of scoliosis on social interactions can contribute to back pain symptoms.


2)  How does physical therapy help with scoliosis bracing treatment?

Physical therapy plays a vital role in scoliosis bracing treatment. Physical therapists work closely with patients who wear braces to develop exercise programs that complement the bracing process. These exercises focus on strengthening the core and back muscles, improving flexibility, and maintaining optimal alignment. Physical therapy helps patients adapt to wearing the brace, minimize discomfort, and ensure proper usage to maximize its effectiveness. The combination of bracing and physical therapy can lead to improved spinal alignment, better postural control, and enhanced functional outcomes.


3)  Is chiropractic or physical therapy better for scoliosis?

Both chiropractic and physical therapy can provide valuable contributions to the management of scoliosis, but the specific treatment choice depends on various factors and individual preferences. Chiropractic care often emphasizes spinal manipulation and adjustments to address spinal misalignments. Physical therapy, on the other hand, takes a comprehensive approach that includes exercises, stretches, postural education, and other techniques to improve strength, flexibility, and overall function. It is advisable to consult with healthcare professionals experienced in scoliosis treatment to determine the most suitable approach based on individual needs and preferences.


4)  Why will our physical therapists focus on restoring alignment, breathing, and posture?

Restoring alignment, breathing, and posture are essential goals in scoliosis treatment for several reasons. Correcting spinal alignment helps reduce the curvature and minimize imbalances within the spine. Proper breathing techniques enhance bodily awareness and promote optimal spinal and ribcage expansion. Additionally, improving posture is crucial for maintaining spinal health and reducing strain on the spine and surrounding structures. By focusing on these aspects, physical therapists aim to optimize overall spinal function, decrease pain, and enhance mobility and quality of life for individuals with scoliosis.


5)  Is chiropractic a good treatment of choice for scoliosis?

While chiropractic care may provide certain benefits for individuals with scoliosis, such as addressing spinal misalignments, it is essential to approach scoliosis treatment through a multidisciplinary and evidence-based approach. Scoliosis is a complex condition that often requires a comprehensive treatment plan, including physical therapy, exercises, bracing (if necessary), and potentially consultation with orthopedic specialists. Collaborative care involving a team of healthcare professionals with expertise in scoliosis management can offer a more holistic approach to address the multiple aspects of the condition.


6)  How can physical therapy help scoliosis patients move better?

Physical therapy can significantly improve movement in scoliosis patients through a variety of interventions. By focusing on strengthening the core and back muscles, physical therapy helps stabilize the spine and improve postural control, allowing for more efficient and coordinated movement. Specific exercises and stretches target muscle imbalances, promote flexibility and enhance overall mobility. Additionally, physical therapists can provide guidance on proper body mechanics and movement patterns to minimize strain on the spine and optimize movement quality. Through consistent physical therapy sessions and home exercises, scoliosis patients can experience improved movement, reduced pain, and enhanced functional abilities.