Recognising the Signs of Scoliosis


Abnormal curvature of the spine is usually due to a condition known as scoliosis, which affects around 3% of the population. Scoliosis is normally a straightforward diagnosis, with an easy to distinguish ‘S’ shape to the spine instead of the usual straight line. The condition is most common in individuals over 65, but it can also come about during early childhood and adolescent years.

Brunswick Heads Physio are no strangers to scoliosis, and we’re here to help you deal with your condition in the safest and most effective way possible. In this blog post, we will provide some insight into scoliosis and how it can be treated.

What is scoliosis?

You’ve no doubt heard the term scoliosis before, but you may not know what exactly it refers to. It’s really quite simple – scoliosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine. Normally the spine maintains a straight structure, and this is evident when looking at a bare back. Those who have scoliosis will display a curvature of the spine, an abnormality which is easy to spot as the spine will appear crooked.

Scoliosis is more common than you might think. Research has shown that around 1 in 2 people have mild scoliosis. In these cases, their condition may go unrecognised or, if diagnosed, be deemed insignificant enough that treatment would not be necessary.

Severe scoliosis is a debilitating condition which usually comes with significant pain. Without careful management, your condition may continue to get worse over time. Surgery is a last resort option, with physio treatment being the preferred alternative. If you are concerned about scoliosis or have been suffering back pain – give the friendly team at Brunswick Heads Physio a call today.

Scoliosis Age of Onset

Scoliosis is classified according to the time of onset. The four ages of onset are listed below:

  • Infantile Scoliosis – children under 2 years old with clearly defined curvature of the spine. Not always a cause for concern, the curves may correct themselves in time.
  • Juvenile Idiopathic – children aged 2-10 years with clearly visible curvature of the spine.
  • Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis – Signs of scoliosis which appear during adolescence, a greater number of females are affected than males.
  • Degenerative Scoliosis – Scoliosis which appears throughout adulthood or during the senior years. Not always possible to determine the cause, usually attributed to degenerative wear and tear.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

It’s almost impossible to determine an exact cause for scoliosis, but many medical professionals believe that genetic issues come into play. It could also be that disease or trauma played a role in skeletal development, leading to abnormal structural twisting. Diseases like osteoporosis, arthritis and degenerative discs have also been linked to the development of scoliosis in older people. The most important thing to keep in mind is that scoliosis is often treatable, and in some cases, if caught early it may even be possible to reverse.

Symptoms to be aware of include tightness along the spine, pain when stretching, a sore back or hips/shoulders which are asymmetrical.

Early diagnosis of scoliosis is important, as this will allow for the most successful treatment outcomes. Diagnosis is done with the use of X-Rays and close physical examination. It is recommended that children between the ages of 11-14 undergo a thorough spine screening to identify any issues early. For those with adult onset scoliosis, please schedule an appointment with us at your earliest convenience. During examination we will look at:

  • The specific shape of your spinal curve (usually an S or C shape)
  • Identifying the exact location where the curve begins (e.g. upper/lower back)
  • The angle of your curve and whether it is minor or serious

Treatment of Scoliosis at Brunswick Heads Physio

Treatment will generally involve a mix of exercise, muscle strengthening, movement re-education, joint mobilisation and postural assessment.

No two cases are ever the same, which is why a tailored program will be put together by your physiotherapist to best suit your condition. The goal of treatment is to help reduce pain, strengthen core/postural muscles and improve overall posture. This will help to prevent your scoliosis worsening with age, and it will also enable you to go about your daily life with confidence.

Contact Brunswick Heads Physio Today

If you’re experiencing back pain and are concerned it may be scoliosis, give the friendly team at Brunswick Heads Physio a call today on 0419 629 333 or make an online booking. Don’t let pain get in the way of enjoying life, start your recovery journey with us today.