The spine normally has curves that help it to absorb shock. These normal curves can be seen when looking at your spine from the side. It curves back in the neck, forward in the area of the shoulders and ribs, then back again in the low back and then forward at your pelvis. When looking from the front or back there should be no curve in a “normal” spine.
Scoliosis is rated by the size or degree of the curve. The greater the degree the worse the curve. Anything less than 10 degrees is not usually noticed and for an actual diagnosis doctors usually don’t give you one unless the degree is greater than 20. Your spine will usually stop growing at about age 18-24 and so does the degree of scoliosis unless you are sedentary and spinal degeneration can increase the angle
Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. it is not a disease just as having a small nose is not a disease, but it can predispose you to problems, just like a small nose may make it harder to breath or may cause you to be more likely to have certain nasal problems.
There are a few methods that are used to treat scoliosis. There is bracing which while most research is inconclusive one recent study shows a decrease in the degree of curvature, but does not address functional improvement in the individual’s quality of life and can have negative impacts on the ribcage. Braces had recently begun to be abandoned as a useful treatment, but new research may change that. Surgery is effective at improving quality of life in some patients, but only in extreme cases and the risks are severe.
Physical Therapy is a treatment option that does emphasize function. It focuses on helping your body to cope with the strain that the scoliosis places on it through exercise and stretching for motion. This is a great start. The treatment with the best outcomes that I’ve seen for scoliosis is chiropractic. Chiropractors can prescribe braces if needed, they also do the physiotherapy work with a patient, but they also focus on joint mobility. The research for chiropractic does show show moderate corrections of 5-10 degrees with chiropractic adjustments. There are cases where chiropractors have seen complete correction, but those are the rare cases most get only moderate improvement. While sometimes the spine cannot be lined up perfectly chiropractors can help it to function better in what ever shape it’s in.
If you have scoliosis you will always be more predisposed to certain injuries, but that’s just a good excuse to take better care of yourself than most people, and that’s not a bad thing.