How to manage scoliosis: coping strategies, tips & more

Living with scoliosis can be challenging, but with the right coping strategies and management techniques, it is possible to manage your symptoms and get back to living life on your terms.

Let's take a look at the different coping strategies and lifestyle changes that you might like to try to help you manage your scoliosis pain.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a common condition that causes an abnormal S or C-shaped spinal curve, leading to symptoms like uneven shoulders, an uneven waist, one hip higher than the other, and visible spinal curvature.

In severe cases, it can cause significant pain, breathing difficulties, and even organ damage​​.

Scoliosis can occur at any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents.

There are several different types of scoliosis, each with different causes, including:

  • Congenital scoliosis – This type is present from birth and occurs due to a malformation of the spine during foetal development. It can range from mild to severe and is often detected at a young age.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis – Caused by other disorders that affect the muscles and nerves, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, this type of scoliosis results from the muscles' inability to support the spine properly.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis – The most common form, idiopathic scoliosis, has no identifiable cause. It is most commonly diagnosed in adolescents and is thought to be influenced by genetic factors.
  • Degenerative scoliosis – Degenerative scoliosis occurs in adults, typically as a result of ageing. Factors like arthritis, spinal disc degeneration, or osteoporosis contribute to the spine's deterioration and subsequent spinal curve.

To learn more about what scoliosis is, and the differences between the various types of this condition, explore our blog: What is scoliosis? Everything you need to know about this spine condition.

Scoliosis management and coping strategies

While medical, and sometimes surgical treatment is essential for effective results, there are also many practical coping strategies and daily activities out there that can help you manage your scoliosis symptoms and improve your quality of life.

While it's important to always visit a healthcare provider before trying any treatments yourself, some strategies you can try include:

Targeted exercises

Participating in exercises specifically tailored for scoliosis by a physiotherapist should play a vital part in your overall management strategy.

These targeted exercises aim to reduce scoliosis pain and enhance your posture by strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine.

Complementing these exercises with regular stretching routines is also important to help maintain flexibility and mitigate muscle stiffness.

Regular general exercise

Engaging in low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling is highly beneficial for individuals with scoliosis, as these exercises strengthen the back muscles without exerting excessive stress on the spine.

Participating in Pilates and yoga, especially under the supervision of a trained instructor, is also a great way to strengthen these muscles while being guided by a trained professional.

Ergonomic adjustments

Using ergonomic furniture both at work and at home is a key element in supporting proper posture when you're living with scoliosis.

Ergonomic chairs and desks are designed to align with the body's natural posture, reducing any strain and discomfort, which is particularly important for anyone who works in an office environment.

If you need support making modifications to your workplace to help manage your scoliosis, our team at APM Disability Employment Services would love to help.

We specialise in helping anyone living with a disability, injury, or health condition find and keep meaningful work, and can assist you in implementing any modifications you need.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily activities, such as guided meditation, is a valuable way for people living with scoliosis to help with stress and pain management.

Mindfulness practices foster a sense of calm and can significantly reduce the impact living with a chronic condition can have on your mental health.

Alongside meditation, exploring relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation can help you to relax the muscles around your spine.

This method involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, focusing particularly on the back and shoulders, which helps in easing tension in these areas.

Balanced diet and hydration

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a beneficial strategy for managing scoliosis-related discomfort.

Foods such as leafy greens, berries, and nuts are known for their inflammation-reducing properties, which can contribute to alleviating some of the scoliosis pain and discomfort.

In addition to a diet rich in these nutritious foods, staying well-hydrated is essential for overall health and plays a big role in making sure your muscles function well.

Pain management techniques

To help manage scoliosis pain and muscle spasms, applying heat or cold therapy can be highly effective.

Heat therapy helps relax and soothe stiff muscles, while cold therapy can reduce inflammation and numb sharper pain.

It's important to experiment with both to find which brings the most relief for your specific symptoms.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can also be considered for managing discomfort under the guidance of a doctor.

If you do experience any kind of pain you believe might be related to scoliosis, it's important you visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible to receive proper treatment.

Support and bracing

In some instances, scoliosis treatment can include a prescription from your healthcare provider for a brace, designed to aid in spinal alignment.

The use of a brace can be an integral part of managing scoliosis, as it helps in maintaining the correct posture and preventing any further spinal curve.

It's essential, however, that if you are prescribed a brace, you get it professionally fitted.

A proper fit is crucial for the brace's effectiveness and your overall comfort.

Professional fitting ensures that the brace provides the necessary support in the right areas without causing discomfort or restricting movement unnecessarily.

Living with scoliosis can come with challenges, however with the right treatment plan and coping strategies, you'll be on the right path to better managing your condition and leading a more fulfilling life, on your terms.