Scoliosis is defined by a lateral curvature of the spine, which typically develops in childhood. Commonly, this will lead to unevenness in the shoulders and pelvis, as these structures are connected to the spine. As we touched on in our Clinical Pilates for Scoliosis blog post, scoliosis cannot be reversed, but can be well managed with a specific Clinical Pilates program. However, sometimes individuals with the condition will require further treatment to alleviate acute flare-ups of back pain. Due to the atypical curvature, there is likely to be an imbalance of the back muscles where one side is shortened and tight, while the other side is lengthened and stretched out. This can cause disruptions in normal musculoskeletal function and therefore lead to pain.
Several electrotherapy modalities can be utilised in order to reduce pain levels, and allow the individual to function comfortably in their daily lives and return to therapeutic exercise. Some of the modalities utilised include interferential therapy, ultrasound, SCENAR therapy, or a combination of these. These are all pain-free, non-invasive treatments.
Interferential involves introducing an electrical current to the area of pain. This is intended to block the pain signals being carried by the nerves to the brain, essentially reducing the pain experience. Additionally, muscles are stimulated, thereby increasing blood-flow and assisting in the healing process. Analgesic effects are normally felt immediately, however, it can take several treatments for this effect to last longer.
Ultrasound therapy involves the use of sound waves to penetrate the skin and stimulate blood flow of the deeper tissues of the body. This is especially useful when there is an indication of an inflammatory process. Ultrasound requires a liquid substance in order for the sound waves to pass from the device.
SCENAR therapy is able to locate problem areas and restore balance to disrupted processes in the body. The SCENAR is effective in reducing pain and inflammation as well as improving range of motion. Effects are generally felt immediately following a treatment session but can take up to three sessions.
Sometimes, a combination of treatment modalities will be utilised for best results. For example, if it suspected that there is some inflammation taking place, ultrasound can be combined with interferential therapy, to help alleviate pain while also addressing the inflammation present.
Once an individual’s pain has settled, their normal management program can be resumed. This will likely mean a return to Clinical Pilates or another form of exercise, aiming to address muscle imbalances, improving strength, control and flexibility.