How do I know if I am getting better?

This all depends what we define as “getting better” – in other words what are your goals or what can be improved with treatment?

The following are some realistic goals/improvements that can be achieved for a patient engaging in scoliosis treatment:

  • Slow progression of scoliosis: probably the best way to define if you are “getting better”

This can be hard to determine without creating a timeline of multiple X-Rays prior to treatment.

If progression has been documented prior to treatment and following treatment the scoliosis progression is halted as per measurement angles on the X-Ray, then the treatment is effective.

If you have increased in height (during growth spurt) and yet your condition remains stable during treatment – this is also a good indicator of slowing progression as during adolescent growth spurt the likelihood of progression without treatment is high.

 

  • Improve posture/aesthetics: postural photos will be taken at initial clinical appointments, during rehabilitation appointments, at follow up clinical appointments. Better posture can be determined by more even shoulders, more balanced waist curves, more elongation of the spine and the head, neck, and pelvis being in better alignment both from a side or back view.

 

  • Reduce/better manage pain: if scoliosis is contributing to your pain levels – with appropriate treatment (whether it be bracing or rehabilitation) a reduction of pain can occur. This can either be lower levels of pains or less frequency of pain.

Your clinician will discuss your levels of pain at your initial session and then ongoing throughout treatment. It is important to note out of 10 what you perceive your pain to be initially and throughout treatment and how often this pain occurs.

Another factor of better managing pain is – if pain occurs during your day to day life – do you now have the tools available to manage this pain e.g. certain exercises or “corrected” positions taught to you by your clinician.

  • Improve function/quality of life: this can be determined by a lot of factors, whether you can do activities you previously couldn’t (including activities of daily living such as self-care or chores around the house), are you able to engage in activities with less pain or later onset of pain, is your sporting or physical activity performance improved or do you feel you have more energy day to day.

 

  • Improve strength/flexibility: sometimes scoliosis can reduce strength and flexibility of your trunk. When engaging in a rehabilitation protocol – your strength and flexibility will be measured at your initial appointment and throughout your treatment or track any improvements in both strength and flexibility. You may even find day to day you feel stronger or are able to carry things that you previously struggled to or that you feel less stiff and have better movement day to day.

 

 

  • Reduction of curve: Occasionally with exercise or brace treatment – reduction of curve can occur. This is generally in younger patients with potential for more growth or patients with more flexible curves. This can be determined by a clinician taking measurement angles on your X-Ray prior to, during and post treatment.

Because the change in the spine that occurs with scoliosis is structural, reduction of curve isn’t possible for a lot of cases but it is important to remember that this isn’t the only factor in determining if you are “getting better” or your condition is improving.

It is important to note that not all the above will apply to you. Treatment goals will vary depending on age, bone maturity, severity of curve, flexibility of curve, other underling medical conditions and physical activity levels.

Timeframe of meeting the above goals or condition improvement will also vary dependant on each individual so it may be necessary to give the treatment a few weeks or sometimes months to achieve best results.

Your treating practioner will discuss with you some realistic goals for your individual case and when you can expect these to occur. The best way to determine if you are “getting better” or your condition is improving is with regular clinical follow up consultations and discussing your ongoing goals/treatment with your clinician.

 

Rebecca Phillips

Exercise Physiologist – ScoliCare

 

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