Scoliosis in Children. Is Osteopathy Treatment Effective?

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine has a sideways curve. The curve is usually “S”- or “C”-shaped. In some the degree of curve is stable, while in others it increases over time. Mild scoliosis does not typically cause problems, while severe cases can interfere with breathing. Pain is typically not present.


How could Osteopathy Help?

Osteopathy is less invasive than other interventions, safe and, being performed by the osteopath, independent of the parents’ compliance. Fine manipulative palpation techniques, which are individually adapted to tissue quality (Philippi et al. 2006).

How could Treatment benefit Infants?

Treatment could address any fetal muscle any imbalances during normal development of the spine. In particular, timing and nature of fetal muscle activity are critical influences on the normal development of the spine, with implications for the understanding of congenital spine deformities (Rolfe et al. 2017).

Is it Effective in infants?

Please bear aware that not enough robust research has been completed to show effectiveness of osteopathy  as treatment in infantile scoliosis. Though one study suggests that osteopathic treatment in the first months of life is beneficial for infants with idiopathic asymmetry, and that rehabilitation methods can be evaluated in this young age group (Philippi et al. 2006).

Why it is not effective in Teenagers / Adolescents?

It could be argued that scoliosis may have progressed to the point where it is no longer treatable. The research has indicated that osteopathy / manual therapy is not effective in teenagers / adolescents. The lack of any kind of serious scientific data does not allow us to draw any conclusion on the efficacy of manual therapy as an efficacious technique for the treatment of Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (Romano and Negrini, 2008).

Is there any Evidence to support Osteopathy as treatment in Adolescent Scoliosis?

There is no evidence to support osteopathy in the treatment of mild adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Therefore, we caution against abandoning the conventional standard of care for mild idiopathic scoliosis (Hasler et al. 2010).


Reference List

Hasler C, Schmid C, Enggist A, Neuhaus C, Erb T (2010). No effect of osteopathic treatment on trunk morphology and spine flexibility in young women with adolescent idiopathic scoliosisJ Child Orthop. Jun;4(3):219-26

Philippi H, Faldum A, Schleupen A, Pabst B, Jung T, Bergmann H, Bieber I, Kaemmerer C, Dijs P, Reitter B (2006). Infantile postural asymmetry and osteopathic treatment: a randomized therapeutic trial. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 48: 5–9 5

Rolfe RA, Bezer JH, Kim T, Zaidon AZ, Oyen ML, Iatridis JC, Nowlan NC. (2017).  Abnormal fetal muscle forces result in defects in spinal curvature and alterations in vertebral segmentation and shape. J Orthop Res. Oct;35(10):2135-2144.

Romano M, Negrini S (2008). Manual therapy as a conservative treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: a systematic review. Scoliosis. Jan 22;3:2.

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