So you have now been diagnosed with moderate scoliosis, or maybe you are on the border of going from mild to moderate scoliosis. Although this diagnosis can be overwhelming, the great news is that you do have options! It is never too late to start reducing your scoliosis curve. Below you will find everything you need to know about moderate scoliosis and all the options that are available to you.
Moderate scoliosis is classified by a curve measuring between 26-40 degrees.
-Moderate Scoliosis has a significant risk of progression, up to 68%
-Scoliosis curve of 26-40°
-May have tilted head, uneven shoulders or hips
-Clothing may hang unevenly
-Often have one shoulder blade that is higher than the other and a “rib hump” appears
-May or may not be associated with pain
-May feel fatigued after physical activity
-Often feel “clumsy”
-May experience pain in spine, most commonly between shoulder blades and at the base of the rib cage
-Headaches are common
-May become easily winded with physical activity
-Often recommended for bracing
Classic Medical Treatment
For over 500 years the scoliosis back brace has been around yet until very recently there has been no definitive evidence of its effectiveness. The goal of scoliosis bracing was always stabilization, not correction – and all too often, a scoliosis brace even fails at that. Scoliosis braces like the Boston Brace, Milwaukee Brace, Providence Brace, Charleston Brace, or the many TLSO braces that are available at hospitals around the world are ill fitting and seek to lock the scoliosis into its distortion. This is similar to what a cast does to a broken arm, lock it in place. This does not work with scoliosis and is seen by many as just a “waiting room for surgery”.
Most scoliosis braces are not designed to correct curves, a scoliosis brace will attempt to hold the spine in place so the curve doesn’t get any worse. To this end many types of scoliosis back brace need to be worn for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years on end.
The goal of scoliosis bracing is to reduce forces acting upon the spine to discourage the vertebrae from twisting further. It attempts to do this by reducing the forces of gravity acting upon those vertebrae. However, the main source of pressure and force acting upon the bones of the spine is not gravity, but the intrinsic core musculature of the spinal column. A scoliosis brace immobilizes the muscles and the discs, this weakens the supporting muscles, and can actually result in a further progression of the scoliosis condition.
A peer reviewed study published in 2007, (evaluating the older styles of braces like the Boston and Milwaukee bracing systems) in the SPINE journal, compared 15 separate scoliosis brace studies with 3 observation-only studies and stated:
“Observation-only or scoliosis brace treatment showed no clear advantage of either approach. Furthermore one can not recommend one approach over another to prevent scoliosis surgery.” They gave the recommendation for scoliosis brace treatment a grade “D” relative to observation only because of “troubling inconsistent or inconclusive studies on any level.”
The controversy over the effectiveness of bracing is somewhat misleading. Most information you read online will be referring to the older brace systems and NOT the modern brace designs. You will never find any doctor in the world claiming that these older bracing systems will reduce or correct scoliosis; rather, the debate is over whether or not wearing that type of brace will prevent the scoliosis from getting worse. When doctors state that bracing “works,” what they’re really saying is that it stabilizes the scoliosis, keeping it at its current position. Most doctors will insist that bracing does “work” — with proper compliance. Recommended compliance is to wear the scoliosis back brace twenty-three hours per day, every day, for many years. If this seems a little extreme to you, you’re not alone.
In a study published in the American Journal of Orthopedics, 60% of the patients surveyed felt that bracing had handicapped their life, and 14% felt it had left a psychological scar. The Children’s Research Center in Dublin, Ireland, has not recommended bracing as a scoliosis treatment since 1991, stating,
“If bracing does not reduce the proportion of children with AIS [adolescent idiopathic scoliosis] who require surgery for cosmetic improvement of their deformity, it cannot be said to provide a meaningful advantage to the patient or the community.”
Benefits Of Moderate Scoliosis Treatment
-Easy to overcome when the curve is not severe
-Increased lung capacity / more room for organs
-Important to stop progression before the curve gets severe
Bracing isn’t your only option!
Learn How The Scoliosis Treatment Clinics Corrective Program Can Help You!