We recently started a series for Scoliosis Awareness Month and covered the topic of what scoliosis is.  In this post, we’ll cover how it feels (from a patient’s perspective) and how it can be diagnosed.

Scoliosis is usually a pain-free condition, but pain may occur as the spine curves abnormally and affects the surrounding muscles and joints. These changes may alter a person’s alignment, posture, and movement patterns, causing irritation and pain. Muscles that usually support the spine may become imbalanced in scoliosis, leading to a loss of strength and flexibility. A person with scoliosis may note:

  • Uneven shoulder height.
  • Uneven hip height.
  • An uneven waistline.
  • A general sense that the 2 sides of the body don’t line up.
  • Pain in the areas surrounding the spine, including the shoulder, pelvis, and hip.
  • Pain with specific movement or activity.

A primary goal of physical therapy is to identify conditions, such as scoliosis, help the individual restore and maintain mobility so they can function at their personal best, and improve their quality of life.

Next we’ll look at how it can be diagnosed.

Scoliosis is usually detected during a physical examination or school screening performed by a pediatrician, school nurse, or physical therapist, with the goal of early detection and treatment.

An initial visit with a physical therapist includes a thorough medical history, and specific questions about the family health history and current activities. Your physical therapist will closely examine the spine in several positions and check factors, such as strength and flexibility, and any feelings of tenderness or swelling. You or your child may be asked to briefly demonstrate the activities or positions that cause difficulty or pain.

The physical therapist also will identify symptoms the individual is experiencing that are caused by the curve to the spine. If the patient goes to the physical therapist before seeing a physician, the individual will be referred to an orthopedic physician, since a radiograph is needed to confirm a diagnosis of scoliosis.

As we continue in this series we’ll look more in depth about how physical therapy can help.

Content from: MoveForwardPT