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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine and is classified based on the cause and age of onset. The condition is often diagnosed just before or during puberty after a growth spurt. Scoliosis can cause back pain and affect other joints of the body such as hips, knees, and shoulders.  Signs of scoliosis include uneven shoulder blades, uneven hips, or poor spinal alignment.






Schedule a Free Consultation With a Scoliosis Specialist in the Greater Austin Area

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, Apex Manual Therapy will customize an individual scoliosis treatment plan.  Scoliosis treatment can help you maintain optimal function of your spine and other joints subjected to breakdown, such as the hips, knees and shoulders.

Apex Manual Therapy can provide scoliosis pain relief through a series of supervised, specialized exercises and equip you with the tools to function despite the disorder. Patients will be education on their specific type of scoliosis and how to manage their condition as their body grows and changes throughout life.  

Our advanced physical therapists have obtained the highest level of orthopedic physical therapy training. They are recognized as Fellows of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT). It’s an educational achievement beyond the doctorate level.  Currently there are only about 1,800 in the states.  When you work with our FAAOMPT therapists you’re guaranteed to receive gold standard care for musculoskeletal conditions.  

If you are in the Greater Austin or Pflugerville, Texas area schedule a free consultation to meet one-on-one with a fellow for the very best physical therapy for scoliosis.   

Goals of Scoliosis Treatment Exercises and Scoliosis Therapy

Scoliosis therapy is a specific type of back pain treatment.  The goal of our treatment plans are to:


  • Provide scoliosis pain relief

  • Prevent further curve progression

  • Decrease amount of curvature, when possible

  • Prevent scoliosis pain from spreading to other joints: shoulder, hips, knees

  • Customize scoliosis treatment exercises for maximum symptoms improvement

Types of Scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by the nerves or muscles malfunctioning. It can be due to diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy or a spinal cord injury.

Idiopathic scoliosis means it’s from an unknown or spontaneous cause. Idiopathic scoliosis is classified based on the age of onset being infantile (0-3 years), juvenile (3-10 years) or adolescents (older than 10).  Ratio of girls to boys is 1:1 with girls being more likely to progress in curvature.  

Congenital scoliosis means you were born with the condition. The spine malfunctioned while in the womb and did not form properly.

Degenerative scoliosis is caused from long term spinal degeneration and changes. This is often seen in people over 50 years old. 

Syndromic scoliosis is due to a syndrome such as Ehlers-Danlos, Beale’s or Rhett’s syndrome.

Most Common Type of Scoliosis

The most common type of scoliosis is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). The Scoliosis Research Society defines AIS as a three-dimensional deviation of the spine of unknown origin associated with a Cobb angle >10°.  Prevalence of AIS is between 2-3%.  

Degree of Scoliosis

The degree of scoliosis is measured by what is referred to as a Cobb angle. The more skeletally immature, the greater chance of the spinal curvature increasing as the body grows because scoliosis can progress after skeletal maturity is reached.  A degree greater than 50 will likely continue to progress after skeletal maturity.

Scoliosis and Back Pain

Scoliosis is associated with back pain. Scoliosis back pain in adolescents is thought to be a precursor for back pain in adulthood. Back pain itself is also significantly greater in patients presenting with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis versus patients without it. 

Reports suggest nearly half of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis suffer from back pain. Lumbar spine (low back) pain being the more prevalent pain followed by thoracic spine (upper back) pain. These problems may require additional back pain treatment. 

Bracing for Scoliosis 

There is a lot of research and literature on bracing for scoliosis. The type of brace depends on the curvature of the spine. Longer periods in the brace correlate to improvement in curvature. Patient compliance is critical and often difficult as the brace is not aesthetically pleasing. 

Scoliosis Surgery

There are several risk factors involved with scoliosis surgery including infection, pseudarthrosis (the most common cause of re-operation), neurologic complications, curve progression and poor functional outcomes.

Physical Therapy for Scoliosis 

Currently there is little research on physical therapy for scoliosis. Apex Manual Therapy is among the few organizations publishing clinical experience with physical therapy treatment for adolescents’ idiopathic scoliosis.

Patient Case: Scoliosis Pain Relief Treatment Plan Outcomes

Subject: 15 year old female presenting with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Degree: Cobb angle 24 degrees 

Treatment: Treated for 6 months with manual physical therapy for scoliosis followed by neuromuscular re-education.


  • Manual Therapy is a hands-on approach used in treating musculoskeletal disorders. Apex Manual Therapy uses manipulations and mobilizations to restore proper joint mechanics as well as soft tissue restrictions. 

  • Neuromuscular Re-Education is a form of treatment used to restore balance, coordination, movement and posture. Neuromuscular re-education teaches the body how to properly use the new motion obtained from the manual therapy techniques in order to maintain the adjustment, manipulation or massage benefits. 

Successful Outcome: Cobb angle after 6 months of physical therapy scoliosis treatment resulted in a Cobb angle of 8 degrees.

We guarantee you’ll also see the difference in our approach and your results.


Treating Scoliosis in Adults: Patient Testimonials

"I've been seeing Alicia for a couple of years… I came to her because of my lower back pain that I had been dealing with for several years. Doctors before had all assumed that my pain was mainly caused by some disc problems I had. I tried cortisone injections three times, and it only worked one time.
When I came to Alicia, she was able to look at the way I move and really nail down what the problem was from how I was walking, standing and bending. And the pain was coming from my SI joints - not just my discs. She taught me how to move my body better, as well as exercises to do at home, and they really helped! I had minor scoliosis when I started seeing Alicia, and its barely visible now because of the exercises she taught me! Some doctors say scoliosis can only be fixed with surgery, but Alicia proved them wrong. 
I'm pregnant now, and I was terrified that my back would be so sore from the extra 30 pounds, BUT to my surprise, it hasn't been that bad. I just have to keep up on my exercises and follow Alicia's advice as far as movement. 
If you are looking for a Physical Therapist, I highly recommend Alicia. She is knowledgeable and is always studying and trying to learn more! I really appreciate all the help Alicia has given me over the past couple of years. "

​- Suzanne, Patient 2016

“I just wanted you to know that I've been going to Alicia Shugart for PT associated with my scoliosis. I am really impressed with her knowledge and dedication. I think her specialization and fellowship that she is pursuing is exactly focused on my condition.  Her confidence that this can make a difference actually inspires me to stick with the exercises and follow-up." 

​- Mark, Patient 2016

"My first experience working with Alicia was when she was finishing her internship. This wasn't my first time to do physical therapy, but it was the first time someone took the time to really address my needs. Over the next few months, Alicia helped me regain balance, alleviate pain, strengthen muscle, and correct my walk. Due to a chronic joint condition, a couple of years later I needed to return to physical therapy and knew right where I was going to go. I'm very happy to have found physical therapist like her."

​- Anthony, Patient 2016

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