There majority of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown. While some speculate that muscle imbalances may be a contributing factor to scoliosis development, others deny the theory; muscle imbalance is a fairly new concept to the medical field that has not yet gained widespread awareness and acceptance. Scoliosis is generally considered an incurable condition, but this may simply be because the cause of most of its cases is unknown. Being open-minded about the cause and trying different scoliosis treatment options may help relieve your pain and even reduce your curvature.
Though there aren’t a plethora of studies supporting muscle imbalance as a potential cause of scoliosis, there are a few. One study measured the length of multifidus muscles in cadaverous scoliotic spines.
Muscle length discrepancy alone is not sufficient to establish it as the cause of scoliosis, though. Changes in muscle length and tension could be a symptom and not a cause of the spine’s curvature. The study also assessed what type of muscle fibers were predominant in the multifidus. On the convex side, there was a predominance of slow-twitch fibers. This type of muscle fiber is used during sustained activity, indicating that the shortened muscle is active on the outside of the spine’s curve. If the curvature preceded and caused the muscle imbalance, the multifidus would likely have suffered atrophy of slow twitch muscle fibers. The researchers concluded that this lends support to the theory that muscle imbalance causes scoliosis. See more on the study at
Even if muscle imbalance is a symptom and not a cause of scoliosis, it’s possible that correcting imbalances could lessen symptoms of pain associated with the condition. A therapy called the Schroth method, developed in the 1920’s in Germany by a scoliotic woman and her physical therapist daughter, aims to correct muscle imbalances in patients with scoliosis. The therapy consists of a series of exercises designed to stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones. Clinical trials and testimonies support its efficacy in reducing curvature in both adults and children. You can purchase a book of exercises for $60 from the Schroth website. Since the plan is meant to be individualized to fit the exact specifications of your curvature’s location and severity, it is best to work on the Schroth method with a physical therapist. Search your area for therapists trained in this method or willing to learn about it with you. See the website at www.schrothmethod.com for more information.
The muscle imbalance approach offers a different avenue for scoliosis treatment. Focusing on muscle balance may reduce your risk of curve progression and surgery.