What Parents Should Know About Scoliosis & Osteopathic Treatment


Scoliosis is a condition that refers to an abnormal lateral curvature in the spine most often found in adolescents, and can be determined by a diagnosing practitioner such as an osteopath. The muscle imbalances, joint restrictions and chronic pain that may result from scoliosis can be effectively alleviated with conservative osteopathic treatment.

If your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis, this blog will help you to understand the causes, symptoms and osteopathic treatment available for scoliosis.

What Causes Scoliosis?

The cause of scoliosis can be divided into the three main categories of idiopathic, congenital and neuromuscular. 

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis and occurs when no other cause, condition or disease can be attributed to it. Congenital scoliosis is caused by an embryological malformation of vertebrae in the spine and is present at birth. Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs secondary to other neurological or muscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Scoliosis? 

Common signs of scoliosis include:

  • One shoulder being higher than the other
  • Uneven hips
  • A subtle or obvious lateral ‘C’ or ‘S’ shaped curvature of the spine
  • Ribs showing more prominently on one side of the body than the other
  • Head uncentered with the pelvis when the body is neutral
  • Entire body leans more to one side

If left untreated, scoliosis can also result in chronic back and leg pain caused by factors such as muscle fatigue from specific muscles working to compensate for the other side of the body, as well as spinal stenosis which is inflammation caused by compressed nerves.

Important Facts About Scoliosis

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type: Most cases of scoliosis are deemed idiopathic when all other potential causes have been eliminated and no known causes can be determined. This is important to note because parents may worry that they neglected to do something that would have prevented their child’s scoliosis. You may be surprised to learn that there are no known methods for prevention. 
  • Early diagnosis is important: Parents should ensure their child has regular doctor’s visits so that scoliosis and other conditions can be diagnosed as early as possible and a plan for management can be implemented. Unnoticed and untreated scoliosis can worsen in severity.
  • Scoliosis is common in families: While there is no known gene that causes scoliosis, evidence suggests that scoliosis runs in families. While you may not be aware of someone else in your family with scoliosis, the severity of it may have been too mild to have had a noticeable impact on the individual.
  • Scoliosis rarely requires surgery: When diagnosed early, scoliosis can be managed effectively without surgical or even bracing intervention. We discuss alternative scoliosis treatment below.

How is Scoliosis Treated?

If you or your child have been diagnosed with scoliosis or if you have not yet received a diagnosis but see potential symptoms, one of our osteopaths can help.

The management of scoliosis through osteopathic care can include mobilising the spine and rib cage to improve range of movement, pelvic mobilisation in the case of leg length difference, and manual therapy to massage, stretch and relieve sore chest, hip or back muscles. Our Osteopaths can also provide exercises and stretches to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and the curvature, and aid with pain relief and postural correction. Contact us to book an osteopathic session by calling 03-9824-8001.

You can also read more on treating scoliosis with osteopathy here: https://acesportsclinic.com.au/blog/can-an-osteopath-help-with-scoliosis_117s73.