In the final post for Scoliosis Awareness Month we’ll look at the story of Anna and how physical therapy helped her regain mobility after being diagnosed with mild idiopathic scoliosis.

Anna is a 13-year-old girl who recently joined her middle-school soccer team. In preparation for the upcoming season, her team has been training, including a significant amount of running.

Recently, Anna began experiencing hip pain during her 2-mile run. The pain would go away after a while, but it would come back each time she ran. She told her mom about the pain in her hip. Her mom realized that recurring pain during physical activity is not typical, and called their physical therapist.

Anna’s physical therapist took a full family health history and performed a thorough examination. He asked Anna about her pain and her soccer training. He asked her mom about any recent growth spurt. Anna’s mom also said that lately she had noticed Anna’s legs appeared to be different lengths, and her shoulders seemed to be at different heights.

Anna’s physical therapist assessed her movements, such as walking, squatting, bending forward and backward, and running. He noted Anna’s posture from the front, back, and each side, and assessed her leg strength and range of motion.

He explained to Anna and her mom that her spinal alignment was not centered, and that the change may be contributing to Anna’s hip pain. Suspecting scoliosis, he referred Anna to an orthopedic physician and notified her pediatrician.

Anna’s pediatrician took radiographs of her back, which confirmed the diagnosis of mild idiopathic scoliosis. With this diagnosis, Anna is expected to regain full function by consistently performing physical therapy exercises.’

Together, Anna, her mom, and her physical therapist developed a treatment plan to help Anna return to pain-free sport participation. The plan began with a 2-week period of rest from sports, while Anna worked regularly with her physical therapist on gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. While at soccer practice, Anna continued to just work on ball handling skills, which did not aggravate her hip pain.

After 2 weeks, Anna’s hip was pain free. Her physical therapist and coaches helped her develop a gradual reintegration plan for her to return to soccer. They helped Anna understand the importance of being honest about her hip pain, and asked her to tell her coach if the hip started to hurt again. Anna continued to attend physical therapy once a week to perform exercises that strengthened her back, and helped improve her soccer movements.

One month later, Anna joined her team back on the field. She changed her routine to allow for an appropriate warm-up time before practice, which included exercises prescribed by her physical therapist. At the end of the season, Anna’s team won the county championship—and she felt at the top of her game!

We’ve covered what scoliosis is, how it feels to the patient, how it can be diagnosed, and how physical therapy can help.  If you’d like to contribute to research on scoliosis and public education about it, you can donate to the National Scoliosis Foundation at

Content from: MoveFowardPT