The spine has three
slight curves - one in the neck, one in the upper back and another
in the lower back. These curves are normal and can be seen
from a side view. From a back view, the spine should appear
straight. If the spine has a side-to-side curve, the curve is called
scoliosis. There are two main types called postural
SCOLIOSIS can be corrected and is caused by some irregularity of
posture such as unequal leg length.
SCOLIOSIS can be due to abnormalities or diseases of
bones, muscles or nerves. Between the ages of about 9 and 14,
children's bones grow rapidly. At this time, the back-bone or spine
may sometimes show signs of developing scoliosis. Early detection
enables early treatment. This may control the condition and prevent
other problems developing in later years.
||Check it Out
When scoliosis is first developing there is
almost never any sign of pain, which is why regular checks are so
important. If left untreated the curve may increase, eventually
leading to back pain, loss of flexibility and the appearance of
being bent over. In later life, severe scoliosis may result in other
complications, e.g. arthritis, respiratory infections and heart
|Signs to Check
Although many students from the age of nine to fourteen are
screened for signs of scoliosis at school, parents could assist by
checking for the early warning signs every six months.
Even if one or more of these signs are
present it does not necessarily mean scoliosis has
It may be that one leg is a little shorter than
the other, or it could be a postural problem. By raising one shoe or
undertaking an appropriate exercise and posture programme it may be
Can Help |
In the majority of scoliosis cases where it is
postural or the curve is mild, physiotherapy can
For a moderate curve or one that is increasing rapidly,
the doctor may advise a back brace or a scoliosis jacket together
with an exercise programme supervised by a physiotherapist.
||give an individual posture assessment
||assess any muscle imbalance
||devise an exercise programme to strengthen weak
muscles and stretch tight muscles
some cases use strapping to control posture
||advise on posture and back care
||advise on ways to alleviate stress on the spine
with the use of appropriate furniture, the correct wearing of
back packs, etc.
||monitor the condition regularly
||recommend further assessment by a medical
Bracing does not prevent participation in most sports and
other normal activities. With a severe curve, surgery may be needed.
Physiotherapists in private practice are listed
in the Yellow Pages. Members of the A.P.A. are bound by a
professional Code of Ethics and have access to extensive
postgraduate education programmes. Check for the initials M.A.P.A.
after the physiotherapist's name.
You may consult a physiotherapist either directly or by
referral from your medical practitioner. Rebates for treatment costs
are available under higher health insurance schemes.
|By courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association