Tag: scoliosis treatment

Disadvantages of Scoliosis-Specific Exercise

While there are several non-surgical treatment options available for scoliosis, scoliosis-specific exercise is a popular method that, like bracing, is gaining popularity. However, like any treatment approach scoliosis specific exercise also has its disadvantages that need to be considered.


Scoliosis Specific Exercise

Scoliosis-specific exercise is a highly specialised area of physiotherapy-based approaches to treating musculoskeletal conditions – unlike normal forms of physiotherapy, it does not focus on symmetrical, therapeutic movements, but rather attempts to use a person’s own body and strength to oppose a Scoliotic curve. Scoliosis-specific exercise – specifically the Schroth method, is the oldest approach to scoliosis treatment and has now been practised for over a hundred years. There’s no question that exercise-based approaches can indeed stop the development of Scoliosis and reduce it in some cases[1] – so it’s well worth considering. However, there are some disadvantages:


Limited impact on larger curves

One of the biggest disadvantages of scoliosis-specific exercise is the lack of scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness in larger curves. Most studies conclude that bracing is a better approach for larger curves and is a faster way to correct scoliosis overall. Some studies do show that exercise approaches may be effective in slowing the growth of a curve[2], but what’s needed (especially in a more significant case) is correction – not just slowing.  That being said, it does seem that combining an exercise-based approach with bracing is more effective than bracing alone.[3]


Requires commitment and consistency

Like any exercise program, Scoliosis specific exercise requires commitment and consistency. The exercises must be performed regularly to see any benefits, and this can be challenging for some patients – especially young children. Some patients may find it difficult to maintain the same level of motivation over a prolonged period. This can be especially challenging for people who are already struggling with chronic pain, making it harder for them to keep up with the exercises. Sadly without consistency, exercise-based approaches will not work.


Requires supervision

Scoliosis-specific exercise programs require supervision to be truly effective – like bracing, a treatment plan needs constant monitoring and adjustment to have the best possible impact. This can be a disadvantage for people who live in remote areas or do not have easy access to a scoliosis specialist. Patients who attempt to perform exercises without proper guidance may inadvertently worsen their condition. This is why it is crucial to seek professional advice and maintain it while using exercise-based approaches to treatment.


Can lead to muscle imbalances

Scoliosis-specific exercise focuses on strengthening specific muscles to correct the curvature of the spine. However, this can lead to muscle imbalances, where some muscles become overdeveloped while others remain underdeveloped. Muscle imbalances can cause pain and discomfort, and in severe cases, can lead to other medical conditions such as joint problems. When a program is properly monitored by a professional this shouldn’t be a problem – but it’s a risk for anyone who does not have the proper guidance.


Does not address underlying issues

While exercise-based approaches may be effective in reducing the curvature of the spine and alleviating pain in some cases, it does not address the underlying issues that led to scoliosis. In some cases, scoliosis may be caused by underlying medical conditions such as neuromuscular disorders or genetic factors, but the typical idiopathic scoliosis seen in teenagers and young people cannot be “cured” with exercise. To be fair, it cannot be “cured” with bracing either – the only way to truly manage the condition is to maintain the spine in as straight an alignment as possible until skeletal maturity is reached. Many professionals view that this is easier to do with bracing than exercise, because of the cost and effort involved in 10-15 years of exercise monitoring.


Is Scoliosis specific exercise right for me?

Scoliosis-specific exercise can be a valuable part of an overall treatment plan and may be the right option for some smaller curves, or stable curves in adults. This being said, it has its disadvantages, and patients should carefully consider these before deciding on this treatment option alone.



[1]SEAS (Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis): a modern and effective evidence based approach to physiotherapic specific scoliosis exercises
Romano M, Negrini Am Parzini S, Tavernaro M, Zaina F, Donzelli S and Negrini S 2015, Scoliosis 2015 10:3, DOI: 10.1186/s13013-014-0027-2


[2] ‘Scoliosis-Specific exercises can reduce the progression of severe curves in adult idiopathic scoliosis: a long-term cohort study’
Negrini A, Donzelli S, Negrini M, Negrini S, Romano M, and Zaina F 2015,, Scoliosis Jul 11 10:20


[3]The effectiveness of combined bracing and exercise in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis based on SRS and SOSORT criteira: a prospective study
Negrini S, Donzelli S, Lusini M, Minnella S and Zaina F 2014, BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014; 15: 263, Published online 2014 Aug 6. doi:  10.1186/1471-2474-15-263


Scoliosis: Should I seek treatment abroad in the UK?

When it comes to Scoliosis treatment, the simple fact is where you live has a big impact on the kind of treatment available to you and how you can best access it. The best place to seek treatment also depends on the kind of treatment you’re looking for, of course. Sometimes this might mean travelling abroad to a clinic is the best option for you. The option to see a specialist who has experience working with a specific co-existing condition might also be a factor to consider, even where others are available closer to home.

At the UK Scoliosis Clinic were thrilled to welcome patients from all around the world who are seeking non-surgical treatment approaches based around bracing. While many of our Clients are UK based, we can and do see many people from all around the world each year – of course, since the COVID 19 pandemic many people have been asking whether it’s a good idea to seek treatment with us in the UK, so this week we look at the pros and cons of travelling to the UK Scoliosis Clinic.



Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room – COVID-19 – while largely under control in the UK, the disease is still prevalent – does this mean you shouldn’t travel? Of course, this is a decision for each of us to make individually, however, at this point in time, the vast majority of covid restrictions in the UK have been rescinded with items such as mask-wearing now optional based on your personal preferences. Covid levels in the UK remain broadly similar to most developed countries. At the UK Scoliosis Clinic, we’ve kept up with common sense measures such as enhanced cleaning and improved ventilation to help keep the spread of covid to a minimum.


The Economy and Pricing

In case you’re not a follower of global finance (we can forgive you for that) we’ll let you know that the UK Economy isn’t exactly doing fantastically at the moment… while this isn’t great for those of us living here it can be a significant advantage for those looking to travel for treatment. The weakness of the UK Pound means that our services, including consultations and braces, are now more affordable than ever before once you take the exchange rate into account.

We’re easy to get to

While travelling internationally often seems like a daunting prospect, the UK Scoliosis Clinic is very easy to get to – and much less complicated than many clinics based in London. Our Chelmsford Clinic is positioned close to both London Stansted (STN) and London Southend (SND) airports the trip from the airport is an easy one. Getting from the airport to the clinic is straightforward, and we have Bus, Cab or Train stops literally within 10 minutes’ walk of our door.

If you’re coming to the UK on a long-haul flight, you may want to stay in Chelmsford overnight, but many of our European-based patients can and do fly in, attend the clinic and return home at the end of the day. Direct flights to both airports are available from most major European destinations, from a wide variety of budget and national carriers – Flights at less busy times can be very inexpensive indeed.

If you’re travelling from Europe It’s also easy to reach our clinic via the Eurostar train service. The Eurostar will set you down at Kings Cross St. Pancras international station in London, from where you can easily connect to Chelmsford station, which is just a few minute’s walk from the clinic

We understand that international patients can often be subject to delays in arriving at the clinic due to situations beyond their control, thus we make all possible efforts to accommodate this – however if you are intending to conduct part of your journey by public transport, please leave at least an extra hour in your planning in case of delays – UK Public transport rarely runs on time!


It’s easy to enter the UK

Although it’s true that European citizens do now face slightly more paperwork when travelling to the UK than before Brexit, the process of acquiring the relevant visa for travel (a tourist visa is perfectly acceptable for visiting the UK Scoliosis Clinic) is straightforward for citizens of the vast majority of countries.


We’re Flexible!

As a Clinic, we want to provide fantastic treatment options to everyone, regardless of where they happen to live. We take a flexible approach to provide options for those who need to travel further to the clinic and we’ll go out of our way to make arrangements that work for you whenever possible. This starts right from the consultation stage with our new web-based consultation option – which is ideal for those living abroad.


Scoliosis Treatment in the UK

If you’re thinking about Scoliosis treatment in the UK, a web-based consultation is an excellent way to start – this will give us an opportunity to speak to you about what we might be able to offer in your specific case, as well as what the cost of treatment would be, before you leave your own home. Follow up and review appointments may also be able to be conducted online when required and we can work with your local x-ray imaging facility if necessary. In fact, if you have been thinking about treatment in the UK, there may never have been a better time!


Bracing Scoliosis over 45 degrees

For many years it was considered to be the case that surgery was the only option for reversing Scoliosis – while Scoliosis braces did exist, their primary function was simply to stop Scoliosis from progressing. The best outcome available from bracing was therefore to slow Scoliosis down enough that a patient reached adulthood with a tolerable curve.

Today, modern Scoliosis braces have the ability not only to stop the progression of Scoliosis but also to reverse the condition. Such “over corrective” braces, such as the ScoliBrace we offer at the UK Scoliosis Clinic do this by applying gentle pressure to the scoliotic curve in the opposite direction to the curvature – over time, this can gradually help the spine to return to proper alignment. The success of bracing treatment depends on several factors – one of the most important being the flexibility in the spine, however, it’s possible for patients with Scoliosis up to around 60 degrees[1] to see excellent correction when they are young and flexible enough.

Nonetheless, the “wait and see” followed by surgery approach is still common today, which means Scoliosis patients should always do their research and explore their options before committing to a specific course of treatment.


When to brace

When to brace a Scoliosis curve is a tricky question, and one of the major benefits of seeing a Scoliosis specialist – very small curves may not need bracing, with an exercise methodology being enough to control the condition. Larger curves, but those under roughly 30 degrees could benefit from either bracing or exercise-based approaches, so the patient’s lifestyle factors and preferences start to play an important role in treatment selection. For curves over 30 degrees Cobb (Cobb angle being the way in which Scoliosis is measured), bracing is usually the best way forward – however many patients with curves over 45 degrees are often recommended a surgical approach, is this the only option?


Bracing curves over 45 degrees – study results

A 2011 study[2] looked specifically at treating Scoliosis patients who were recommended surgery but declined it. The purpose of the study was to verify if it was possible to achieve improvements of scoliosis of more than 45° through a complete conservative treatment – in most cases, this means a combination of bracing and exercise. Specifically, the methods comprised full-time treatment (23 or 24 hours per day) for 1 year with Risser cast, Lyon, or Sforzesco brace; weaning of 1 to 2 hours every 6 months; with strategies to maximize compliance through the Society on Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT) management criteria applied and specific scientific exercises approach to scoliosis exercises (SEAS) performed.

Out of 1,148 idiopathic scoliosis (IS) patients at the end of treatment, the sample comprised 28 subjects older than 10 years, still growing, with at least one curve above 45°, who had continually refused fusion. The group comprised 24 females and four males, including 14 in which previous brace treatments had failed; at the start of treatment, the age was 14.2±1.8 years and Cobb degrees in the curve were 49.4° (range, 45°-58°). Subgroups considered were gender, bone age, type of scoliosis, treatment used, and previous failed treatment.

After the course of treatment, two patients (7%) remained above 50° Cobb but six patients (21%) finished between 30° and 35° Cobb and 12 patients (43%) finished between 36° and 40° Cobb. Improvements were therefore found in 71% of patients, with only a single 5° Cobb progression observed in one patient. As such, the conclusion was that bracing can be successfully used in patients who do not want to undergo operations for Scoliosis, with curves ranging between 45° and 60° Cobb, given sufficient clinical expertise to apply good braces and achieve great compliance.


Is bracing always the right choice for larger curves?

Weather bracing is the right choice for any given curve depends very much on the patient – as studies like this show it’s certainly possible to achieve great results without undergoing surgery – however, the spine needs to be sufficiently flexible and there needs to be time before skeletal maturity is reached still remaining so that treatment has time to work. A consultation with a Scoliosis specialist is always the best way forward when dealing with a suspected or confirmed Scoliosis case, but today it’s certainly true that there are far more tools we can use to prevent and treat Scoliosis than ever before.




[1] Maximum indicated cobb angle for ScoliBrace

[2] Stefano Negrini  1 , Francesco Negrini, Claudia Fusco, Fabio Zaina, Idiopathic scoliosis patients with curves more than 45 Cobb degrees refusing surgery can be effectively treated through bracing with curve improvements Spine J. 2011 May;11(5):369-80.doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2010.12.001. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Do curves continue to grow after bracing?

Scoliosis Bracing is one of the most effective ways to treat Scoliosis – today it’s the preferred method used by Scoliosis specialists, and increasingly it’s seen as a worthwhile methodology even by some spinal surgeons. Bracing works by gently applying pressure to the spine while the brace is being worn – this slowly guides the spine back into the correct position, correcting Scoliosis over time. A natural question which often comes up is, therefore, what happens after bracing? Will the curve return?


Scoliosis progression

Scoliosis itself is a progressive condition – this means it tends to get worse over time. In children and young adults it worsens very quickly, especially around growth spurts. Once the body reaches Skeletal maturity (which is usually a bit later than the point at which someone is legally considered an adult) the progression of Scoliosis tends to stop, or at least slow. Research suggests that the size of  a Scoliotic curve a person carries into adulthood is a major factor in determining wheather their cure continues to grow. Larger curves (approximately 30 degrees or more) which are carried into adulthood tend to progress throughout life – about 1 degree per year is a commonly cited figure[1] – conversely, curves which are less than 30 degrees often don’t progress.

Scoliosis also commonly impacts older individuals – the prevalence of scoliosis increases with age, so that roughly 30% of the population over 60 have adult scoliosis, although in older people the cause is slightly different – most cases are age-related due to wear and tear on the spine, although having Scoliosis already can make this kind progress more quickly.

What we can take away from this is that the core objective of Scoliosis bracing should be to get people to skeletal maturity with a curve as small as possible, and below 30 degrees wherever viable. This gives a person the best chance of living the rest of their life with minimal or no impact from Scoliosis.


Curves after bracing

While most of the research being carried out in the Scoliosis field relates to treating curves in the first place, some studies have looked at the issue of loss of correction. One recent study aimed to evaluate the

loss of the scoliotic curve correction in patients treated with bracing during adolescence and to compare patient outcomes of under and over 30 Cobb degrees, 10 years after brace removal.

As part of the study, researchers reviewed 93 (87 female) of 200 and nine patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) who were treated with the Lyon or PASB brace at a mean of 15 years (range 10–35). All patients answered a simple questionnaire (including work status, pregnancy, and pain) and underwent clinical and radiological examination.

The patients underwent a long-term follow-up at a mean age of 184.1 months (roughly 15 years) after brace removal. The pre-brace scoliotic mean curve was 32.28° (± 9.4°); after treatment, the mean was 19.35° and increased to a minimum of 22.12° in the 10 years following brace removal. However, there was no significant difference in the mean Cobb angle between the end of weaning and long-term follow-up period. The curve angle of patients who were treated with a brace from the beginning was reduced by 13° during the treatment, but the curve size lost 3° at the follow-up period.

The groups over 30° showed a pre-brace scoliotic mean curve of 41.15°; at the end of weaning, the mean curve angle was 25.85° and increased to a mean of 29.73° at follow-up; instead, the groups measuring ≤ 30° showed a pre-brace scoliotic mean curve of 25.58°; at the end of weaning, it was reduced to a mean of 14.24° and it increased to 16.38° at follow-up.

The basic conclusion was therefore that Scoliotic curves did not deteriorate beyond their original curve size after bracing in both groups at the 15-year follow-ups.  Interestingly, there was also no significant difference in the mean progression of curve magnitude between the ≤ 30° and > 30° groups at the long-term follow-up, which tends not to support the traditional thinking that larger curves progress more through adulthood.


Preventing loss of correction

From the above, we can conclude that a small amount of curve increase is likely when discontinuing bracing treatment – however, It’s important to keep in mind that rather than simply weaning off of a brace, it’s possible to be more proactive about the end phases of treatment. One option, for example, is to continue with a Scoliosis specific exercise regimen – research demonstrates that doing so can help to prevent loss of correction after treatment.[2]

While we are not aware of any specific studies which have looked at this issue, one other factor to consider is a possible weakening of muscles which can take place during bracing. A brace takes much of the load off of the musculature which surrounds the spine, so that after a period of years wearing a brace a person may be less able to support themselves and maintain good posture. Studies have shown, however, that Scoliosis specific exercise can be effective in reducing muscle stiffness and loss of strength during bracing[3] suggesting again that a “proactive” end to bracing may help to reduce the risk of loss of correction even further.





[1] Weinstein SL, Ponseti IV: Curve progression in idiopathic scoliosis. J Bone Joint Surg (Am) 1983, 65:447-455.

Weinstein SL, Zavala DC, Ponseti IV: Idiopathic scoliosis: longterm follow-up and prognosis in untreated patients. J Bone Joint Surg (Am) 1981, 63:702-712.

Ascani E, Bartolozzi P, Logroscino CA, Marchetti PG, Ponte A, Savini R, Travaglini F, Binazzi R, Di Silvestre M: Natural history of untreated idiopathic scoliosis after skeletal maturity. Spine 1986, 11:784-789.


[2] Fabio Zaina et al. Specific exercises performed in the period of brace weaning can avoid loss of correction in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) patients: Winner of SOSORT’s 2008 Award for Best Clinical Paper,  Scoliosis 2009, 4:8


[3] Negrini S, Aulisa L, Ferraro C, Fraschini P, Masiero S, Simonazzi P, Tedeschi C, Venturin A: Italian guidelines on rehabilitation treatment of adolescents with scoliosis or other spinal deformities. Eura Medicophys 2005, 41(2):183-201


Gamifying scoliosis treatment – could it work?

One of the most important factors in delivering successful scoliosis treatment is ensuring that patient compliance is high enough to derive a positive outcome. Put simply, treatment only works if you actually do it!

In terms of bracing, it’s easy to measure compliance – a brace is either worn, or it is not. If the brace is being worn, the treatment is being applied, if it is not, the brace does no good. Actually measuring bracing compliance has been a methodological issue in many bracing-based studies, since patients often do not accurately report the length of time for which they really wore the brace. More recent studies have relied on temperature based sensors to objectively measure when a brace is, or is not, being worn, which has been successful from the point of view of study investigators and is generally viewed favourably by patients.[1]

When it comes to scoliosis specific exercises, however, the picture is more complicated – patients must perform their exercises daily in order to have any chance of success, however, they must also perform them correctly. Therefore, simply taking the time to do a scoliosis specific exercise regime does not guarantee results – you must also ensure that you do it right from start to finish.  The need to perform exercise regularly and correctly is a limitation which needs to be considered especially when working with younger children – it’s no slight on any young person to question whether they will have the strength and indeed memory, to be able to perform exercises with precision every single day. What’s more, studies have actually shown that young children perform better when higher volumes of feedback are given  – by contrast, in adults, less feedback leads to higher precision[2] , therefore, home-based exercise approaches may lend themselves more naturally to adults, although it is often children with smaller curves who stand the benefit the most from them.


Gamifying Treatment

One novel, but interesting approach to this problem has been to develop video games and interactive apps which can guide young children in performing these kinds of exercises – these have the dual benefit of providing the additional feedback children seem to desire, and also adding some fun to what can be an otherwise boring routine.  One recent study looked at the effectiveness of a so called “Physiogame”, developed by the IT department of the FH JOANNEUM, University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria.[3]   The concept is simple, but effective – using the game with an interactive controller the player is instructed so that they remain within a desired splaying space and adopt correctly the 3D positions of the trunk and extremities which are individually adjusted to the corrective posture desired – the game only continues when the posture is correct. This provides both motivation and constant feedback which suits the need of younger participants.

A recently study[4] examing the impact of using such a game showed some real promise for this approach – While the study was small scale (8 patients) and the actual use time of the game in question varied, significant improvements in the accuracy of exercise performed were observed.

In the first month, the participants managed to stay in the predefined 3D space 73% of the gross playing time, and by the last month of the observation period, this increased to 83%. The children improved their performance of the exercise on average by 15%.  The improvement in staying in the corrective posture autonomously and being able to focus more on the game was reflected in the average increase of positive hits per second in-game: they increased from 0.33 in the first month to 0.56 in the last month, for an average increase of 66%.[5]

As part of the program, participants were also asked to evaluate their own performance – interestingly, the study showed that the self-assessment of general performance (“today I did well”) stayed almost the same over the study period, with an average of 2.7 (good) in the first month and 2.3 (very good) in the last month. Similarly, self-assessed stabilization of the vertebral column changed only slightly from 2.6 (good) in the first month to 2.3 (very good) in the last month[6] – hence, the patients improved in their accuracy of exercise without actually being aware of it.


Further research

The study authors conclude that further research into the use of these kinds of “gamified” treatments may well pay dividends, especially for younger patients. In the post-covid world, where pandemic resilience and an increased desire to perform more tasks from home are a key features, this kind of interactive “take-home therapist” may well play a key role in treatment in the future.




[1] Sabrina Donzelli et al. Adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis and their parents have a positive attitude towards the Thermobrace monitor: results from a survey Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders volume 12, Article number: 12 (2017)

[2] Sullivan KJ, Kantak SS, Burtner PA. Motor learning in children: feedback effects on skill acquisition. Phys Ther. 2008;88(6):720–32.

[3] Lohse K, Shirzad N, Verster A, Hodges N, Van der Loos HF. Video games and rehabilitation: using design principles to enhance engagement in physical therapy. J Neurol Phys Ther. 2013;37(4):166–75.

[4] Christine Wibmer et al. Video-game-assisted physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises for idiopathic scoliosis: case series and introduction of a new tool to increase motivation and precision of exercise performance Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders volume 11, Article number: 44 (2016)

[5] Christine Wibmer et al. Video-game-assisted physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises for idiopathic scoliosis: case series and introduction of a new tool to increase motivation and precision of exercise performance Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders volume 11, Article number: 44 (2016)

[6] Christine Wibmer et al. Video-game-assisted physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises for idiopathic scoliosis: case series and introduction of a new tool to increase motivation and precision of exercise performance Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders volume 11, Article number: 44 (2016)

I think my Child has Scoliosis – 3 things NOT to do

As parents, we all want to do the best for our children – and when you suspect Scoliosis it can be hard to know what to do. Despite efforts from the Scoliosis community the condition is still widely unknown in the general population which can lead to confusion and that feeling of not knowing where to turn. The most important step to take if you do suspect scoliosis is simply to get active – reach out for help and get the ball rolling.

There are however, a few things you should definitely not do – these three issues are, in our experience the biggest pitfalls for parents of children with scoliosis, so wherever possible do not:


1 – Be passive

Because Scoliosis is a lesser known condition, you may well not know anyone who has suffered with the condition. The reality is that Scoliosis should be treated as quickly as possible, as treatment is much easier with a smaller curve, however the lack of awareness in the community can lead to a false sense of lack of urgency. Even amongst those who do know about Scoliosis, many are still unaware that new, non-surgical treatment options now exist. 10- 15 years ago, it was thought that surgery was the only effective option for treating scoliosis, so even many medical professionals were simply taught that the best approach to scoliosis is to “wait and see” if the curve becomes bad enough for treatment. The problem is that scoliosis almost never resolves on its own[1] so while it’s possible it may not progress further “wait and see” is never a good option – at the very least see a scoliosis specialist and ensure the condition is being monitored.


2 – Ignore the costs

Unfortunately, very little non-surgical Scoliosis treatment is available in the UK through the NHS. This means that if you’re looking for non-surgical treatment, you’ll probably be taking about private care. Please do see your GP to find out what is available in your area, but you should expect that Scoliosis treatment will cost you money.

It’s easy to react to these costs by either ignoring them (which isn’t responsible) or failing to contextualise them properly (which isn’t realistic). There are two major factors to consider here. Firstly, if you are seeking help for a scoliosis case which is already severe, the chances for successful treatment without surgery are lower – the larger the existing curve, the higher the chance non-surgical approaches will fail. A reputable scoliosis practitioner will give you the best indication they can as to the possible outcomes of treatment and what you might expect in a best or worst case scenario – you should base your decision on the cost of treatment on your own expectations for outcomes, and how likely they are. In some cases, you may be paying simply to delay surgery which will be required anyway and this is important to remember.

At the other end of the scale, it’s critical to remember that Scoliosis treatment is a long process – the totality of your scoliosis treatment will extend from discovery of the condition through until your child has reached adulthood – it’s therefore essential to remember that the costs for treatment are spread over a very long period of time. The price of a Scoliosis brace, for example, is therefore best considered as a monthly one over duration of the brace, rather than a single one off cost.


3 – Forget about mental health

Scoliosis can be stressful for everyone involved – and since it’s a condition which commonly affects teens and young adults, it comes at a time of life which is already delicate for many. There are two main approaches to scoliosis treatment plans to choose from – one is group based treatment, and one is individual treatment. Group based settings offer no privacy, but can potentially foster a ready made support group, whereas private one to one settings offer privacy without peer support.

The right kind of environment for you will of course depend on your own child’s preferences – so try to keep this in mind when choosing a clinic. At the UK Scoliosis clinic, we provide a private one to one environment, although we welcome as many relatives or friends that your child would like to have around them to attend consultations, exercise sessions and treatment reviews. Research has shown that having a calming and private environment to discuss and perform treatment can actually lead to better clinical outcomes, although this won’t be ideal for every child. [2]


Getting help

If you’re concerned about Scoliosis, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we offer Scoliosis consultations online as well as at the clinic with no obligation to take up treatment, whatever you do – be active!



[1] Angelo G Aulisa et al. ‘Brace treatment in juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: a prospective study in accordance with the SRS criteria for bracing studies – SOSORT award 2013 winner, Scoliosis 2014 9:3

[2] Elisabetta D’Agata et al. Introversion, the prevalent trait of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis: an observational study Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders (2017) 12:27

What is the most common treatment for Scoliosis?

If you look around online, you’ll quickly see that lots of people are looking for advice on what the most common treatment for scoliosis is – in fact, “what is the most common treatment for scoliosis” is one of the most popular asked questions on google search!



The problem with “common” treatment as a concept…

We understand why this is – but for us, this question speaks to a real problem with most people’s understanding of Scoliosis! It’s essential to understand that Scoliosis is a highly individualised condition – yes, it has common hallmarks whenever it is present, but almost every aspect of the condition will, in fact, vary between patients. Because of this, treating scoliosis successfully requires a treatment approach which is personalised, rather than common or generic.

Usually, it’s not even enough to describe a broad treatment pathway when treating a Scoliosis case – simply saying that an exercise-based approach is used, for example, does not mean much – since a scoliosis specific exercise routine will be (or should be!) designed from the ground up to counteract the specific scoliosis which the patient is experiencing.

Furthermore, it’s rare that only one approach will be used in treating scoliosis. Surgery is a possible exception to this, but even in this case, most surgeons do recommend some form of physiotherapy post-surgery to speed recovery and promote health after the operation. It’s therefore much more helpful to think about the possible components of scoliosis treatment and to speak to a scoliosis professional about your specific case and how a treatment plan can be put together.


Components of scoliosis treatment plans

With that said, let’s look at a high level, at some of the most common options for treating scoliosis.


Wait and see

Wait and see used to be a common refrain amongst GP’s encountering scoliosis cases – for many years, surgery was thought to be the only option for correcting scoliosis (it’s now been shown that this is not the case), therefore the only real option was to watch a scoliosis case and see if it got bad enough to require surgery. It goes without saying that this is not a treatment, and today there is almost no circumstance where “wait and see” is truly a good approach.



Spinal fusion surgery is the most common surgical treatment for severe scoliosis in adolescents. Using metal rods, hooks, screws, and wires (known as instrumentation), the procedure straightens the spine and solidifies the bone to prevent further abnormal curving. Such a procedure will stop scoliosis from progressing and can typically straighten the spine to a considerable degree. The main downside is the risk of complications from surgery as well as the longer-term issues associated with living with a fused spine. For those with large scoliotic curves, however, these issues are often far preferable to living with severe scoliosis.



Scoliosis bracing has come a long way over the last 10-20 years. Once thought of as a way to potentially slow scoliosis progression, modern “over corrective” scoliosis braces can be effective in reducing and even totally eliminating scoliosis cases given the right conditions. For bracing to be effective, the patient typically needs to be young enough for their spine to remain flexible and have not yet reached spinal maturity. Luckily, this window aligns perfectly with the 10-15 age range where the majority of scoliosis cases are first spotted. Modern scoliosis braces are relatively comfortable to wear, low profile and effective when used as prescribed. Today, bracing is the best option for those with scoliosis cases over roughly 30 degrees and under 60 degrees. Larger curves may still be treated with bracing, but the degree of correction possible is likely to be less.


Exercise-based approaches

Also commonly used today, exercised based approaches utilise specialist disciplines within physiotherapy to allow a patient to actively oppose scoliosis with their own body – exercise-based approaches require commitment to show results, but can be effective in reducing smaller scoliotic curves when applied diligently. Exercise is very often used alongside bracing, as it has an especially noticeable effect on muscular strength and tends to oppose some of the muscular weakening which can occur with bracing.


Complementary approaches

There are many other complementary approaches which have been shown to have supportive benefits for scoliosis sufferers – these include disciplines such as massage, yoga or Pilates. None of these approaches have been shown to actively correct scoliosis, but they may play a valuable role in helping to reduce pain or discomfort associated with the condition.


Experimental methods  – more research required

Scoliosis treatment is an area where a great deal of research has been taking place recently, and there are a number of other approaches being investigated with a view to determining their effectiveness as scoliosis treatments. Some approaches, such as vibration-based therapy show promise in augmenting existing methodologies – at least one study has suggested that combining a vibration plate with scoliosis specific exercise may improve results.

Other areas not currently seen as effective treatments for scoliosis, such as chiropractic, are being actively investigated by organisations such as CLEAR. Indeed, some of these experiments have published promising results. Programmes such as CLEAR have not yet met the bar in terms of demonstrating efficacy for scoliosis treatment, but may do so in the future. At the UK Scoliosis Clinic, we stay on top of many developing methodologies and will be open to incorporating new ones if and when the literature supports this step.


Which scoliosis treatment is right for me?

This article is intended as a quick overview of some of the approaches which can go to make up the unique course of scoliosis treatment that all patients deserve. The critical thing is to find a clinic that has the breadth and depth of experience to provide the treatment which best fits you. At the UK Scoliosis clinic, we provide all of the non-surgical options listed above (except the experimental ones) and work closely with expert and highly respected spinal surgeons to refer those cases which would not benefit from non-surgical intervention.

For more information about any of these approaches, please browse our website and articles, or feel free to get in touch.





Bracing vs Exercise – Which Scoliosis Treatment is Cheapest?

When it comes to treating scoliosis, you shouldn’t just be trying to find the cheapest option – it’s critical to consider the likely outcome of treatment over the long term, and to remember that in many cases the cost of treatment will be spread out over many years. Quality treatment is always going to be more expensive, and the sad fact is that “cheap” treatment may not have any positive impact at all. This being said, it’s also only right that you do consider cost as part of your treatment selection process. Let’s look at some of the considerations to keep in mind when choosing between exercise-based, or bracing based treatment.



Scoliosis bracing is the most effective way to treat Scoliosis, in terms of Cobb angle, without undergoing surgery. Bracing has the best chance of any treatment to not only stop the development of scoliosis but also to reverse the condition. Bracing is typically recommended for curves between about 30 and 60 degrees, but certainly can be used to treat smaller curves.

Scoliosis braces (at least ones worthy of the name) are custom made for the wearer and are expensive – the average brace will cost anywhere between 3000 and 4000 Uk Pounds. Some braces, such as the ScoliBrace we offer at the UK Scoliosis Clinic are adjustable within a certain degree, meaning you can get more life out of the brace.

While bracing does come with a high upfront cost it should be kept in mind that a brace will, in the vast majority of cases, last for many years. In adolescents with larger curves, more than one brace may be needed, since eventually, the scoliosis could improve to a point where a new brace would need to be fitted in order to keep up the reduction, but in many cases an adjustable brace such as ScoliBrace can cover an entire course of treatment. In younger children requiring bracing either to correct scoliosis or prevent a relapse multiple braces will be needed, but this will still be spread out over 10-15 years. On the other hand, when buying a brace as an adult, you can (assuming you do not go through significant weight loss or gain) essentially consider it as a lifetime investment.

Bracing also has the benefit of incurring next to no ongoing costs – it’s advisable to have check-up appointments at scheduled intervals, but other than this the treatment is paid for.

In real terms then, the cost of bracing in those not having reached skeletal maturity should be considered as between £1000 and £2000 per year. For those buying a brace as an adult, the cost would be considerably less when annualised.

Exercise-based approaches

Scoliosis specific exercise approaches are often offered alongside bracing as additional support but are mostly used to treat smaller scoliotic curves, at or below 20 degrees. There are essentially two ways to approach this – either through a “Bootcamp” style intensive course, which seeks to teach the patient how to establish and maintain an exercise program or through regularly scheduled appointments over the period of treatment.

Bootcamp style classes can be an attractive prospect – lasting only a few weeks to a month, however, they do not address the need for scoliosis specific exercises to be constantly evaluated and adjusted to keep the correction going. For those looking simply to prevent a small scoliotic curve getting worse, a Bootcamp may work well – but for longer-term treatment, regular appointments with a therapist are usually preferable.

A critical factor to consider with exercise-based approaches is the ability of the patient to perform the exercises correctly – either SEAS or Schroth exercises are not easy, and require physical strength, this means this many younger children may struggle to perform the techniques correctly, even if their compliance with the schedule is 100%.

Scoliosis specific exercise boot camps can cost anywhere from £2000-£5000, depending on the location and whether accommodation is included. Individual sessions range from £50 to £100 per session, based on 1 session per month this comes out to roughly £600 – £1200 per year, plus ongoing travel costs.

As you can see, in real terms, the annualised cost of bracing compares favourably with a Bootcamp style approach and bracing is likely to be only slightly more expensive than a session-based approach to treatment. Taking a Bootcamp type introduction to scoliosis specific exercise, and then following up with periodic appointments with a specialist to review will probably cost more than bracing.


Which should I choose?

Although the figures above represent rough guides  (the cost of any treatment will always be individualised and could be more or less than this) it’s hopefully clear to see that there is not likely to be a huge difference in cost when considered over a period of years.

The main factor to consider should, therefore, be the most appropriate treatment for your case. Certain situations are easy to determine – very large curves in young people require bracing in order to have a chance of avoiding surgery, Small curves in adults with a stable spine, without any pain can be easily managed with an exercise approach and curves of say, 45 degrees in young people require bracing for the fastest possible reduction before skeletal maturity is reached and the spine is too ridged to correct.

Often, convenience is more of consideration – for example, the parents of a young teen with a small curve may consider wearing a brace part-time a better investment than paying for ongoing exercise therapy, given that it’s much more effort to comply with an exercise prescription and almost no effort at all to put on a brace. Similarly, an older person might prefer to treat a smaller scoliotic curve which is not too bothersome with the session-based exercise approach, since raising a large amount of cash up-front for the purchase of a brace may not be justifiable.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer as to which treatment ends up being the cheapest since treatment for scoliosis is always as individual as the patient, but in many cases, you will find that the real terms cost between the two isn’t that great.



Do I need to treat my Scoliosis?

Scoliosis, in most cases, is a progressive condition – this means it gets worse with time. For this reason, we recommend most people (and all young people who have not reached skeletal maturity) treat, and try to correct Scoliosis as soon as possible. There are, however, some circumstances where treatment of Scoliosis may not be required – let’s take a look.


Scoliosis in children – does it need to be treated?

We started out by saying that for young people, scoliosis should always be treated – the reason is simple – Scoliosis tends to progress over time, and in a very young person there is a lot of time for scoliosis to continue to progress. It’s true that once a person reaches adulthood the development of scoliosis slows considerably – and below a certain cobb angle the curve may stop completely, but sadly most young people will reach a surgical threshold before this.

Research has demonstrated that cases of Juvenile scoliosis greater than 30 degrees tend to progress quickly – studies suggest that as much as 100% of these patients will progress to the surgical threshold. Juveniles with curves from 21 to 30 degrees are more difficult to predict in terms of progression but can frequently end up requiring surgery, or at least are left living with a significant disability.[1]

There is always a chance that scoliosis may not progress as much as predicted, and an individual who experiences scoliosis at a young age may make it to adulthood without requiring surgery. There are, however, still many common symptoms that scoliosis sufferers will experience throughout their life without treatment. Some of the most common include pain, physical deformity, limited mobility and difficulty breathing during exercise.[2] Some recent research has also suggested that even a small cobb angle can have a significant negative impact upon a person’s ability to be active and keep fit and healthy.[3] Since we understand how important staying fit and active is to long term health, it is also fair to say that left untreated scoliosis could be a predictor for longer-term health problems.

Since, with modern, active, bracing there is an excellent chance of not only preventing scoliosis development but actually reversing it. So there are almost no circumstances where active treatment of scoliosis isn’t worth at least investigating.

The only significant exception here would be in the case of an individual who is certainly going to require surgery regardless of attempts to slow or reduce scoliosis through a non-surgical method such as bracing. Bracing can sometimes be used in severe cases as a way to try to delay surgery, but this is not always a net benefit in the long term.


How about in adults?

There are two types of scoliosis in adults – these are adolescent scoliosis in adults (ASA) (Essentially, scoliosis carried over from childhood) and de-novo scoliosis. De-novo scoliosis will be discussed in a moment, so let’s consider ASA first.

The rate of progression of scoliosis in adults varies – but is certainly slower than in children. As a rough figure, about 1 degree per year can be expected. There is, however, quite some variation in the actual worsening experienced by an individual – with research suggesting that this may be correlated to the degree of scoliosis on reaching adulthood – those with larger curves tend to progress more in adulthood, those with smaller curves progress less and many not progress at all.

This is the first case in which there are a large group of people who probably do not need to treat scoliosis – although they should have regular check-ups to ensure that the condition has not started to worsen. An adult with a relatively small curve, which does not cause pain or discomfort and is not progressing, does not stand to gain significantly from Scoliosis treatment. Although it is not impossible to slightly reduce a scoliotic curve in an adult, any correction will be much smaller than in a child hence, if there are no other symptoms, monitoring scoliosis is probably the best approach.

Adults with a curve which does seem to be progressing, or who are experiencing pain or other symptoms from scoliosis may want to consider either an exercise-based approach or bracing as a method to manage Scoliosis. Both approaches are suitable for adults since there is less concern about adherence to an exercise regime (a common problem with children). The appeal of bracing for adults is likely to be ease of use, and, although bracing is expensive, it’s worth keeping in mind that an adult brace will likely last a lifetime if well cared for.

While we often associate scoliosis with younger people – especially girls (certainly, these are the group we most often think about treating today) this stereotype is somewhat unhelpful. In fact, the group most often impacted by Scoliosis are the over 60’s – here, as much as 30% of the cohort suffer from degenerative or “de-novo” scoliosis, a condition caused by spinal degeneration induced by ageing which can cause pain and discomfort. [4]

In older adults, the decision to treat scoliosis is more nuanced – although de-novo scoliosis does progress, cases tend to do so more slowly, hence the main issue to be addressed is often pain. Approaches such as bracing can be an excellent option here, but they do come with a cost – for some older adults with only mild discomfort from their scoliosis the cost of bracing base treatment may therefore be too high to justify, although an exercised based approach can be an excellent compromise between cost and results.



[1] Progression risk of idiopathic juvenile scoliosis during pubertal growth, Charles YP, Daures JP, de Rosa V, Diméglio A. Spine 2006 Aug 1;31(17):1933-42.

[2] Sperandio EF, Alexandre AS, Yi LC, et al. Functional aerobic exercise capacity limitation in adolescent idio- pathic scoliosis. Spine J. 2014;14(10):2366–72. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2014.01.041

[3] SARAIVA, BA; et al. “Impact of Scoliosis Severity on Functional Capacity in Patients With Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis”. Pediatric Exercise Science. 30, 2, 243-250, May 2018

[4]Scoliosis in adults aged forty years and older: prevalence and relationship to age, race, and gender
Kebaish KM, Neubauer PR, Voros GD, Khoshnevisan MA, Skolasky R, Spine 2011 Apr 20;36(9):731-6.

The prevalence and radiological findings in 1347 elderly patients with scoliosis
Hong JY, Suh SW, Modi HN, Hur CY, Song HR, Park JH.,  Journal of bone and joint surgery 2010 Jul;92(7):980-3


How is scoliosis treated in 2021? – Part 2

Last week we began looking at how we can best treat Scoliosis in 2021 – this week we’re continuing to look at treatments, this time in terms of exercise and physiotherapy based approaches.

Schroth Therapy

Schroth therapy is a well-established and easy to use exercise methodology which some experts consider to be the best exercise-based approach for treating Idiopathic Scoliosis. [i]

As an independent treatment, some studies have shown a reduction of cobb angle of 10-15 degrees over the course of a year[ii] – however Schroth therapy combines particularly well with bracing. When Schroth is combined with bracing superior results can often be achieved more quickly.[iii]

The Schroth method itself is comprised of more than 100 individual exercises, which are chosen and organised individually for each patient. A Schroth program usually consists of 6-8 core exercises which are specifically targeted for the curve in question. This is because the Schroth method recognises that what’s appropriate for the common 3-curve, right thoracic scoliosis, for example, would not work for the 4-curve variety.

At the UK Scoliosis clinic, we adhere to the guidelines of the Schroth Best Practice program, the most up to date development of the methodology based on recent evidence by Dr Hans-Rudolf Weiss, Grandson of Katharina Schroth and son of Christa Lehnert-Schroth. Schroth best practice incorporates the latest evidence-based approaches and includes several new methods for treating specific conditions common to scoliosis sufferers more directly than the original version.



SEAS is the acronym for “Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis”.

SEAS is an approach to scoliosis exercise treatment with a strong grounding in the most modern approaches in physiotherapy. SEAS treatment programs are usually constructed by a practitioner, who will then teach the patient their individual routine. After this, SEAS can be performed at home.

The objective of SEAS exercise is to promote self-correction of the scoliotic posture, using exercises which are often incorporated into a broader exercise program designed to improve overall function and lessen the symptoms of scoliosis.

Unlike other therapies, the SEAS methodology is constantly evolving, so seeking out a practitioner who demonstrates familiarity with the latest research is especially important.

SEAS is also used alongside bracing treatment and is especially useful for avoiding a loss of correction after the conclusion of treatment with a brace. A 2008 study showed that post-brace patients treated with SEAS experienced no loss of correction after 2.7 years.[iv]


So….Which treatment is best for me?

In most cases, the best treatment for scoliosis will be bracing – be this part time, full time or night-time based bracing. Whichever treatment you choose, be sure to opt for a clinic which offers customised one to one treatment – If you suspect scoliosis you should seek a professional consultation, but as a rough guide we would suggest:

For small curves, less than 20 degrees a scoliosis exercise program based on SEAS or Schroth might be sufficient, especially if there is a low risk of progression.

For curves over 20 degrees, or curves with a high risk of progression, bracing is the best option. Today, it is fair to say that specialised scoliosis bracing when prescribed for high-risk patients can prevent the need for surgery in most cases.[v] Research indicates that non-surgical treatment with a brace is highly effective in treating juvenile idiopathic scoliosis, whereas part-time bracing in adults significantly reduces progression of curvatures and improves quality of life.[vi]

Often exercise is combined with bracing as part of an overall treatment program – but research shows that in head to head comparison bracing is the most effective treatment in most cases. A recent study showed that over 12 months, bracing led to a mean reduction in cobb angle of 5.88 degrees, whereas exercise reduced curves by just 2.24 degrees.[vii]


[i] Steffan K, Physical therapy for idiopatic scoliosis,  Der Orthopäde, 44: 852-858; (2015)

[ii] Kuru T, et al. The  efficacy  of  three-dimensional  Schroth  exercises  in   adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: A randomised controlled clinical trial,

Clinical  Rehabilitation,  30(108); (2015)

[iii] Marinela, Rață;Bogdan, Antohe, Efficiency  of the Schroth and Vojta Therapies in Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis. Gymnasium, Scientific Journal of Education, Sports, and Health Vol. XVIII, Issue 1/2017

[iv] Fabio Zaina et al. Specific exercises performed in the period of brace weaning can avoid loss of correction in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) patients (Winner of SOSORT’s 2008 Award for Best Clinical Paper) Scoliosis 2009 4:8

[v] Stuart L. Weinstein, Lori A. Dolan, James G. Wright, and Matthew B. Dobbs. ‘Effects of Bracing in Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis’ [Results of the BrAIST Clinical Trial] N Engl J Med 2013; 369:1512-1521

[vi] Palazzo C, Montigny JP, Barbot F, Bussel B, Vaugier I, Fort D, Courtois I, Marty-Poumarat C. ‘Effects of Bracing in Adult With Scoliosis: A Retrospective Study’ Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Jun 22 . pii: S0003-9993(16)30256-8

[vii] Yu Zheng, MD PhD et al. Whether orthotic management and exercise are equally effective to the patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in Mainland China? – A randomized controlled trial study SPINE: An International Journal for the study of the spine [Publish Ahead of Print]