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What are the Different Types of Scoliosis Therapy?

Article Details
  • Written By: Virginia Franco
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 26 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is curved. The severity of the spine curvature and the age of the patient will often determine the type of treatment or therapy recommended to correct or manage the problem. Orthotic management, or the use of a scoliosis brace, and spinal surgery are the two types of scoliosis therapy with the most successful track records.

Scoliosis therapy involving a back brace is often recommended for use in children or young adolescents with spinal curvatures that range between 25 and 40 degrees. The main goal of the brace is to stop the progression of spine curvature by immobilizing the spine. A secondary goal of back braces is to provide lower back pain relief that often accompanies the movement of spinal discs.

There are two types of spinal braces used to correct curvature: the underarm and the Milwaukee brace. Both are usually custom-designed to ensure support and pressure is placed on the area of the spine where the curvature is greatest. The underarm brace is most often composed of plastic and is molded to fit the patient's body. It reaches from the underarm area, around the ribs, down to the hips. This brace is not useful for scoliosis of the upper spine.

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The Milwaukee brace surrounds the entire torso, and is considerably more cumbersome to wear. It has a ring that goes around the neck, including supports for the chin and behind the head, along with a series of float bars in the front and back. The Milwaukee brace is used only when the underarm brace is not suitable.

The effectiveness of scoliosis therapy involving orthotic braces is highly dependent on the number of hours in which the brace is worn. While most medical professionals do allow brace removal during certain physical activities, it is usually recommended that the brace be worn at night and during the day. A doctor will often discontinue the brace after the bones stop growing, which will likely occur approximately two years after the onset of puberty.

Spinal fusion is a surgical option that is considered a part of scoliosis therapy. It is usually suggested when the spine curvature is greater than 50 degrees, or when the back brace fails to work. Spinal fusion surgery straightens the spine by connecting two or more spinal vertebrae together with new bone, using metal rods and screws. Complications from this procedure can include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and failure of the bone to heal. In rare cases, a second surgery is required if the first one does not succeed in correcting spinal curvature.

There are many article that suggest alternative scoliosis therapy may be an option for those who do not wish to consider a brace or surgery. These therapies include chiropractic manipulation, electrical muscle stimulation, and biofeedback. Experts have not found these alternative therapies to treat scoliosis to be effective, however.

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