The spine is one of the most important parts of the human body, helping us to stand upright, aiding balance and allowing us to perform movements like bending and lifting with ease. In order to fulfil these complex tasks, the spine has some degree of natural curve – called kyphosis and lordosis – which helps provide the flexibility it needs. Too much or too little curve is called hyper- or hypokyphosis and hyper- or hypolordosis.
Unfortunately, it is possible for the spine to develop curvatures outside of these ranges, a condition known as scoliosis, which can vary in severity. Individuals with scoliosis can experience mild to severe discomfort, which may result in a variety of physiological compensations. Massage Therapy students learn special assessments to differentiate between structural and functional scoliosis. Massage Therapists may work in conjunction with Physiotherapists and Chiropractors to assist in rebalancing muscles and in re-educating patients to avoid postures that will exacerbate functional scoliosis.
An irregular scoliosis curvature can occur in any part of the spine, and the exact causes of the condition are currently unknown. It is most likely to develop during adolescence, although forms of scoliosis can be present at birth or caused by diseases such as polio, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy. Functional scoliosis—which is reversible—can also develop in adults as a result of muscle injuries and spinal degeneration.
Massage therapy diploma students learn how medical practitioners approach scoliosis treatment. Smaller curves are often simply observed to ensure the problem does not become more severe, but greater curves in children may be treated with orthopaedic braces. Scoliosis can result in elongated musculature on one side of the body, shortened musculature on the other, and other complications that may lead to back pain.
Because of its effectiveness in providing pain and stress relief, students in massage therapy college know that massage therapy can be a vital tool for improving the overall quality of life of scoliosis sufferers. Deep tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy and stretching techniques can all be beneficial, reducing tensions in tighter muscles and improving flexibility and posture, as well increasing blood flow to affected areas and helping to repair adhesions.
A 2006 case report conducted in Seattle by Michael Hamm LMP would appear to support this. A combination treatment of neuromuscular, deep tissue, and muscle energy techniques resulted in substantial improvements in pain levels, sleep quality, and range of movement for a 34-year old woman who suffered from a combination of scoliosis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and costovertebral dysfunction.
Want to help patients with scoliosis and other debilitating conditions?
Contact OVCMT to find out more about our massage therapist program.