The Schroth Method | Scoliosis Treatment
The Scroth Method is a scoliosis treatment that stresses physical therapy in order to stop or eliminate abnormal spinal curvatures that may cause back pain.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, which results in an S or C shaped curve, rather than forming a straight line from the top of the spine to the bottom. Though there are several congenital causes of scoliosis, most are very rare, and the cause of scoliosis remains unknown, in most cases. Scoliosis may be present at birth (congenital scoliosis), or it may develop later on in life, due to wear and tear (degenerative diseases). But in most cases, the changes in the curvature of the spine becomes abnormal as children's spines are developing, due to unknown causes. In many cases, scoliosis does not result in back pain or discomfort, and may simply require monitoring by a doctor to make sure that it does not become more severe. In other cases, the curvature may become more severe, requiring medical intervention. Medical interventions for scoliosis usually involve one or more of these three types of treatments.
- Spine Surgery
- Physical Therapy
The Scroth Method: The Scroth Method is a physical therapy approach that is non-invasive, with a proven track record in North America, and most European countries. Spine specialists who support and treat with this physiotherapy program believe that in most cases, abnormal curvatures are caused by a complex of muscular asymmetries of the abdominal and back muscles. The exercises taught in Scroth Method clinics focus on re-stabilizing the back by removing these muscular asymmetries.
A study that was published in the Italian Journal of Orthopedics and Traumatology (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1308886) followed the cases of 107 patients with scoliosis, who were treated with Schroth Method physiotherapy. Radiographs and patient symptoms levels were recorded before and after a 4-6 week treatment program in which patients trained under a Scroth Method protocol. The study showed that at the end of the 4-6 week program that the curvature had corrected itself by an average of 10 degrees. Patients who continued this treatment protocol for a year experienced a 30% improvement in their scoliotic curvature. In a 1997 journal article in Pediatric rehabilitation, nearly all of the patients who used the Schroth Method had no curve progression during the three years they continued that treatment. Other studies have demonstrated similar success in stopping or reversing the severity of curvature, as well as reducing and eliminating back pain.
Nearly all cases of scoliosis involve muscular imbalances, in which the muscles do not pull equally from all sides of the spine. Imagine a seesaw, with two people on either end. If the seesaw were in equal balance, both children on opposite sides of it would be of equal size and mass, and the board would remain level and parallel to the ground. Now imagine that one of these children were much bigger than the other. In this case, one end of the seesaw would be pulled downwards as the larger child comes down to the ground. That's basically what happens with a scoliosis spine. When the muscles on one side of the spine have a disproportionate pull, the spine will be pulled in that direction, and out of alignment.
The Scroth exercises are designed to bring the body back into balance, so that the muscles are of equal length and strength on all sides of the spine. The doctor or spine specialist designs a custom program for each patient, based on which muscles and other musculoskeletal structures are out of balance. The doctor and physical therapist will also check for areas of tightness and inflexibility of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Each treatment protocol is specifically tailored to each patient, so patients in this program are more likely to train in one to one exercise and stretching sessions, rather that in group exercise programs.