Massage for Scoliosis

Definitions: lateral curvature of the spine
A curve is identified by the side of the convexity (the side it sticks out to) and the area that it affects (cervical, thoracic, lumbar)

  • congenital scoliosis
  • idiopathic (unknown cause) infantile (birth-3 years), juvenile(3-9years old), adolescent (10-19 years old) scoliosis.  Most common is adolescent girls.  A young girl that has not reached menarche is at much higher risk for scoliosis progression than a girl 2 years after onset of menses (skeletally mature).
  • neuromuscular conditions such as poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy , muscular dystrophy ,amyotonia congenita , Friedreich’s ataxia, spina bifida
  • mesenchymal disorders : Marfan’s syndrome ,Morquio’s syndrome ,rheumatoid arthritis
  • postural (functional) scoliosis – postural misalignment due to habitual patterns of use
  • Hysterical scoliosis- a non-structural deformity of the spine that develops as a manifestation of a psychological disorder.

Classification of severity of curvature:

  1. Mild – curves of less than 20 degrees.  Normal is often considered to be curves of 10 degrees or less
  2. Moderate -20 – 50 degrees with early structural changes in the vertebrae and rib cage
  3. Severe- 40 -50 degrees or more with significant rotational deformity of the vertebrae and rib cage,  pain and degenerative joint disease are often present.  Curves of more than 60-70 degrees are associated with cardiopulmonary changes.

Causes: Idiopathic scoliosis means that there is no known cause. Some possible causes are scar tissue, spasm or proprioception problem, sensory-motor amnesia, abnormal postural control because of vestibular system dysfunction, imbalanced posture due to trauma, food allergies, side dominance


  • rotation and lateral flexion of the spine often with fixed rotation of the vertebrae
  • uneven leg length
  •  uneven muscle development in legs and back
  • muscle pain from spasm, atrophy and overuse
  • arthritis
  • stenosis of the spinal column
  • nerve compression
  • Scoliosis may be related to or cause the following:  TMJ, thoracic outlet syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, quadratus lumborum dysfunction, shoulder/forearm tendinitis, plantar fascitis, achilles tendinitis, sacro-iliac strain or dysfunction, headaches, digestive problems, dizziness


  • asymmetric shoulder level
  • prominence of the scapula on the side of the convexity
  • protrusion of the hip to one side
  • asymmetrical ASIS
  • increased lumbar lordosis
  • leg turn out (laterally rotated leg)
  • foot problems such a flat feet on one foot more than the other.

Treatments:  structural integration,
lengthen structures on the concave side, lengthen hip flexors and erector spinae: strengthen the muscles on the chronically weakened side, decompress joints

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Other helpful therapies include acupuncture, physical therapy, pilates, movement therapies, eliminate food allergens



Scoliosis – From

Getting it Straight Scoliosis and Structural Integration By Lana Lensman : Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Straight Talk Symptomatic Scoliosis  By Erik Dalton : Massage and Bodywork Magazine

CASE REPORT (pdf Massage therapy foundation.)Impact of massage therapy in the treatment of linked pathologies: Scoliosis, costovertebral dysfunction, and thoracic outlet syndrome Michael Hamm, LMP

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