The Benefits Of Acupuncture For Scoliosis Patients

Scoliosis isn’t just a congenital condition. Anyone can develop scoliosis. Neurological and connective tissue disorders can contribute to the development of scoliosis, as can traumatic injuries and musculoskeletal imbalances. Sometimes, we develop scoliosis as we age, and sometimes we develop scoliosis for seemingly no reason at all. Understanding the cause of your scoliosis can make your treatment plan more effective. But, regardless of the underlying cause of your condition, did you know that acupuncture can be used to improve scoliosis symptoms? Today, we’re diving deeper into the benefits of acupuncture for scoliosis patients. 

Research shows that acupuncture can help reduce scoliosis pain while improving the Cobb angle of the spine. Correcting spinal alignment has a trickle-down effect that improves how you move your entire body, and this also eliminates pain. 

Acupuncture improves spinal alignment

If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis, chances are you’re pretty familiar with the phrase “Cobb angle”. Simply put, the Cobb angle is a standard measurement used to diagnose and follow the progression of scoliosis. This measurement is taken with the help of an x-ray. Perpendicular lines are drawn from the upper endplate of the uppermost vertebrae, and the lower endplate of the lowermost vertebrae. A Cobb angle of over 10 degrees indicates scoliosis. The greater the degree of this angle, the more severe the scoliosis. 

Regardless of the severity of the scoliosis, realigning the spine is the primary focus of scoliosis treatment. That makes sense, right? Aligning the spine will improve the way you move and this will, naturally, help eliminate your pain. But, how exactly can you realign your spine? Studies show that acupuncture can be tremendously helpful for improving spinal alignment. Regular sessions can even correct spinal curvature in certain cases. 

Acupuncture has also been shown to improve the surface rotation of the spine, and that’s after just one session. When used in tandem with other treatments, like corrective exercise therapy, acupuncture has the potential to be even more effective, especially if your scoliosis is mild and/or you’re looking for conservative treatment options.

Acupuncture restores musculoskeletal function

Sometimes, the reason the spine begins to curve in the first place is because the muscles that are supposed to support it are weak. In these cases, improving your scoliosis symptoms and correcting the Cobb angle hinges on bringing these muscles back into work. 

The extensor, flexor, and oblique muscles are the three main muscle groups responsible for keeping the spine in alignment. These muscles enable you to bend forward and backward and rotate your torso from left to right. But they can become weakened from repetitive use, improper use, as well as from inactivity (thanks a lot, desk jobs!).

The good news is that acupuncture can be used to improve blood flow to the muscles in the back and also to encourage these muscles to relax. It’s not unusual for weak muscles to become overly tense to compensate for their lack of strength. Once your muscles relax properly, you can begin to use them properly, and this will help you rebuild your strength. 

Focusing on keeping your back muscles healthy and strong is critical, as this encourages them to support your spine the way they should. Over time, this can reduce your Cobb angle, reversing your scoliosis symptoms and/or preventing your condition from becoming worse. 

Acupuncture treats scoliosis pain

Pain is a major complaint among patients with scoliosis. As the spine curves and vertebrae become degenerative, this puts pressure on surrounding nerves, causing terrible nerve pain. The weakened spinal muscles become tight and painful, and the pain often radiates as surrounding muscle groups are forced to overcompensate for imbalanced back muscles. It’s not uncommon for scoliosis patients to suffer from hip, leg, shoulder, and neck pain as well as back pain. 

We often advise our scoliosis clients to schedule regular acupuncture sessions if for no other reason than for its pain-relieving benefits. Acupuncture is a super-treatment when it comes to dealing with pain, not only because it improves circulation and reduces inflammation, but also thanks to its ability to raise the body’s pain threshold

As each needle is placed during your acupuncture session, it triggers the nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for producing neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that your nerves use to communicate with your brain. Neurotransmitters influence our moods, our muscle movements, our sleep cycles, our heart rate, and so much more. They’re pretty important! But when our neurotransmitters are out of balance, they can amplify our pain levels.

Acupuncture stimulates the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, including serotonin, GABA, and endorphins. Serotonin and GABA support feelings of contentment as well as relaxation (which is especially beneficial if you’re also dealing with insomnia). Meanwhile, endorphins alter the way your brain interprets pain, raising your pain threshold. Together, these neurotransmitters work to make your pain more manageable naturally.  

Acupuncture can be used alongside other scoliosis treatments

Generally speaking, the more mild the case of scoliosis, the more conservative the treatment protocol. Your doctor may only advise you to wear a corrective brace and engage in some physical therapy. For more severe cases of scoliosis, surgery may be recommended. 

In either case, acupuncture is safe and effective enough to support you as you begin your scoliosis treatment. You can use acupuncture as a conservative therapy or as a supportive treatment after surgery

It’s worth noting that other therapies, like cupping and soft tissue mobilization, may also offer therapeutic benefits for scoliosis patients. When it comes to treating scoliosis, it’s a good idea to put multiple irons in the fire. We’ll work with you to help you determine which treatments will benefit you the most. 

Contact us today

At Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, we’ve treated hundreds of patients from all walks of life. We’re no strangers to back pain or musculoskeletal dysfunction. From your first appointment, we’ll help you understand your condition and create realistic goals for the future.  

If you’re ready to get started on your healing journey, contact our office today to learn more. We’ll help you book an appointment and answer any questions you may have. 

Scoliosis can be life-altering, but there are steps you can take to manage and improve your condition so you can continue to take an active role in your life. Get in touch with us today and take charge of your health. 

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