Scoliosis – The Facts and how we can help

So you/your child has just been diagnosed with scoliosis… what do you do??

Apart from worry, the next most likely reaction is to consult google for answers which can be a minefield of information.
You will find things about braces, casts, surgery and exercise but what is the right option for you??

At Compass Physio our expert Paediatric Physiotherapist Aoife McCarthy has vast experience in this area and this blog will help to explain scoliosis in clear and simple terms.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition that affects your spine or back bone. While we all have curves in our spine, a scoliosis is said to occur when you have a abnormal lateral (sideways) curve to either the right or the left.

This can happen in the lower (lumbar) part of your spine, the middle (thoracic) part of your spine or mid to lower part of your spine (thoraco-lumbar curve).

There are four types of scoliosis:

  1. Idiopathic scoliosis

  • This is the most common type of scoliosis accounting for approx 8 in every 10 cases

  • Idiopathic essentially means of unknown origin, maning there is nothing you could have done to prevent it

  • Sometimes it may be genetic, meaning it is more likely to run in families

  2. Congenital scoliosis

  • Occurs when the bones in the spine are not formed properly in the womb

  • Present from birth

 3. Neuromuscular scoliosis

  • Caused by an underlying muscle or nerve condition

  • Such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy

4. Degenerative scoliosis

  • Tends to affect older adults

  • Resulting from wear and tear of the spine with age.


Scoliosis can be classified as either mild, moderate or severe depending on the measurement of you/your child’s Cobb angle.

The Cobb angle is a measure of the abnormal curvature of you/your child’s spine in degrees which is done by a doctor on x-ray.

Mild Scoliosis = 10-24 degrees

Moderate Scoliosis = 25-50 degrees

Severe Scoliosis = more than 50 degrees.

Any measurement under 10 degrees is not considered to be a scoliosis.


While you/your child’s exact treatment path will be determined by the severity of the scoliosis, there are lots of things we here at Compass Physio can do to help within our three clinics at Castlecomer, Tullyallen and Enfield.

Scoliosis is often described as a vicious circle, even a small change in the position of your bones (vertebrae) can cause the surrounding muscles and tissues to become tight, causing pain, reducing breathing capacity, causing you/your child to move around less thereby increasing the pain and stiffness even further.

This is the part that we can help you with!

Through a detailed and thorough assessment, we can help identify the problem areas and target them with manual therapy, breathing techniques, massage, stretches and specific strengthening exercises. The main aim of these treatment techniques is to reduce symptoms, to keep you moving and to ultimately keep you/your child enjoying your life and the things you love doing!!

If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to give us a call or book an appointment……

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To find out how Compass Physio can help, call 0419847545 (this number covers all clinics), click here to book online or download our free information booklet. You can also email any questions to

Paddy Mulligan MISCP
Chartered Physiotherapist
Compass Physio