View Full Version : Strengthening the weak(collapsed) side of my scoliosis

06-28-2005, 03:27 AM
I have a prominent rib hump(52 degree thoracic) curve. This means that the other side of my body has my rib protruding forward and rotated as well. It looks abnormally thin from the profile and 3 quarter view compared to the stronger side. I am looking forward to possibly strenghthening the muscles of the collapsed side up to bring my chest out more, enlarging my side obliques and buffening my trapezius so that it will look thicker/more rounded and wouldn't look so thin and flat. Is this even possible to achieve? Has anyone tried this?

However, i am having difficulty figuring out how i should only work out the weak side without having to work out the strong side. Most equipment in the gym just aren't designed for people to work out only one side. I tried it, and i eventually end up either working muscles on both sides of my body or not at all. I am also looking forward to do just the opposite on the stronger side, basically de-strenghthening it. Who do i see to setup this workout plan further? Is a fitness trainer good enough, or do i need to see a physical therapist?

06-28-2005, 07:57 AM
Jinseeker, if I was you I would speak to a physiotherapist. Have a look at some of the other threads on this board. There are some studies where specific types of weight training have helped. With a curve like yours, it would seem that a combination of weight training and botox injections into the stronger muscle to relax it would be best. But you'd have to speak to a specialist.

The thing is, you have structural scoliosis, as indicated in your signature. What I've suggested above I can only see being affective for functional scoliosis where the vertebrae are normally shaped, but I could be wrong. Even if you work out, the condition may not change at all due to the shape of your spinal bones. But I'm not a doctor so I don't know this for sure.

Does your curve cause discomfort or pain?

I have a 20 degree curve and working out doing only specific lifting has allveviated some of the stress on my back but it's something I have to do all the time.

I always thought that curves over 40 degrees were usually operated on???

Either way, I'd speak to specialists so that you don't injure yourself or make the condition worse while trying to make it better.

I hope that doctors are able to create custom synthetic portions of vertebrea for people like you to help align the back in the vertical position and have it stay there. Something perhaps you can ask doctors about or do searches on the internet.

Mary Lou
06-28-2005, 08:08 AM

Not all curves over 40* are operated on. It is always the choice of the patient/parents even if their doctor has suggested surgery. If a person is skeletally mature, their curve is over 40-50*, there is no pain, or problems with their heart or lungs and their curve is not progressing, surgery isn't always necessary or even suggested.

Mary Lou

06-28-2005, 08:52 AM
Here's an interesting article (actually an NSF newsletter !). It's in PDF format and you have to click on that manifying thingy at the top to read the article. :)



06-29-2005, 03:21 AM
Hi Jinseeker!
I would head for a physiotherapist hands down. I find that fitness instructors are pretty clueless when it comes to targetting specific muscles and so forth - their aim is usually just to get you generically strong and fit, consequences be damned! :)
A physio would be able to tailor a set of exercises for your specific problem much, much better.
Strengthening your traps is absolutely possible - I've been doing it for the last seven months with a set of pilates-style exercises given to me by my physio. I can't say I know whether you can focus solely on one side, as I have been strengthening both (I have kyphosis, rather than scoliosis, so both sides of my body are in need of strengthening), but that is likely something a physio could answer for you. I'd say it's possible in principle though. I can picture a whole lot of single-handed push ups! Ouch! :eek:


06-29-2005, 04:39 AM
Shaun ,
Fortunately, I've never had any back pain all my life even with a severe scoliosis like mine. I don't expect my spine's curvature to get any better because there has been no proven way to do it yet. I am however, only exercising so i can maintain my curve and keep healthy. The weak half of my body is just extremely thin due to flattened out muscles(I can hardly see my trapezius from the side view even if i hunch my back)and i still would like to know if it is possible to develop and build these muscles up so that my weak side would look thicker and not so thin.

You said:
"I hope that doctors are able to create custom synthetic portions of vertebrea for people like you to help align the back in the vertical position and have it stay there. Something perhaps you can ask doctors about or do searches on the internet."

i still don't get what you mean about custom syntetic portions. Do you mean surgery? I certainly decided not to since my curve is not progressive and i am in good health and not in any pain. I also don't know what kind of a physiotherapist i should see so i can have botox injections to relax the tight muscles. Are physiotherapists and physical therapsits the same?

06-29-2005, 05:36 AM
I'm happy to hear you don't have pain or discomfort. That's incredible.

You would be better to consult some type of scoliosis specialist, therapist, and the like.

What you don't want to do is start meddling with your back for aesthetic purposes and wind up putting additional pressure on spinal nerves and wind up with everlasting discomfort or pain.

The only people in a position to go over this with you is somebody in the medical field and who can get up close and personal with your spine.

06-29-2005, 09:21 AM
I also don't know what kind of a physiotherapist i should see so i can have botox injections to relax the tight muscles. Are physiotherapists and physical therapsits the same?


I can see the logic behind strengthening the weak side of the curve -however from a hypothetical stand point - getting botox injections to weaken the convex side of the curve could possibly have undesirable results, the most important being - the curve could increase further. I also don't think they are administering these drugs to anyone other than patients with neuromuscular scoliosis AND as an adjunct to bracing. Another major concern would be an unqualified practitioner administering the drug and inadvertently injecting the spinal cord with botox. *cringing*


06-29-2005, 01:02 PM

Aww now that thought is going to be stuck in my mind all day

06-30-2005, 10:03 PM
I heard a lot of good stuff about physiotherapy. But are physiotherapists and physical therapists the same?

Thank you for all the advice.

07-11-2005, 08:04 PM

They are the same thing. In almost all cases, you will have to get referred to a physical therapist by your doctor. This is probably the best idea, anyway! You don't want to try to correct something yourself or go to someone untrained and then end up making the problem worse. You know how they always say you should never start a new fitness routine without consulting your doctor? It's true, especially if you have an underlying problem like scoliosis. It's fantastic that you don't have any associated pain - you don't want to try to correct something cosmetic and end up in pain! I have a relatively minor curvature, but I know that certain kinds of exercise, including a lot of the standard strengthening exercises that personal trainers will give you, will cause me a lot of pain and stiffness if I do them regularly. Even if a physical therapist isn't able to correct the appearance issues, they will give you the foundation for healthy exercise, and help you decide what kind of a fitness routine is right for you, so that you can correct those things down the road without making sacrifices.

07-12-2005, 07:28 AM
Thanks for the responses, i will definitely do that. If you are wondering why i don't have any pain or discomfort is maybe because i am still young. I must admit i did have pain but it happened very rarely and would be gone in a couple of hours or the next day. Usually it would be some sort of chest pain or pain from the weak collapsed side of my back. Perhaps i may start experiencing more constant pain as i get older, that's why it is so important to start monitoring it and taking on maintenance measures like going to the chiropractor once a month.

07-12-2005, 09:25 AM
I definitely understand you not having pain. Mine did not bother me either in my 20's, 30's. I kept very active with swimming, hiking, chasing children, working full-time etc.
It was not until my 40's that it caught up with me.

07-12-2005, 08:46 PM
I have a set of exercises designed to exercise the structurally weak side or the ones with the mechanical DIS advantage along the spine. I will try and get them scanned into the computer and I can email them to you, just send me an email address.

The only hazard to using these exercises is if you dont know your curves(but it seems you do from your sig) you can cause harm by strengthening the wrong curves...

07-14-2005, 06:01 PM

Your story sounds similar to mine. Milwaukee braced as adolescent. Surgery was recommended after 4/5 years of bracing but I declined. Felt fine and active through 20's & 30's, had 3 children and now in early forties am having increased lower back, right hip pain (especially during menstruation), right shoulder and neck aches. Yoga helps some, but hard to get into regular, everyday routine. What exactly is "degenerative" scoliosis? What will be done during your surgery, and what does your doctor say about recovery?


07-14-2005, 07:13 PM
Hello! FlowerPower- you lasted longer w/ that dreaded brace than I did! I refused to wear it after a year and a half. My mom tried everything- even trying to bribe me w/ new clothes. Oh, the things we put our parents through!
I remember years later in my dreams feeling the weight (10 lbs.) of that monstrosity.
Anyway, at my last dr. app't - 2 wks. ago- was when deg scoliosis was brought to my attention. It was written on the pt. script. So I've been doing some researching- I'm sure Linda will jump in if I'm wrong. :o Degenerative scoliosis is when other symptoms are affecting it- stenosis, degenerative disc disease. Stenosis usually does not occur in a "normal" spine until a person is 60-70 years of age. I'm a little confused w/ this too as my diagnosis has always been idiopathic.
I just feel fortunate that I've not had problems until recently. I have two children- relatively easy pregnancies and have always been able to work full-time and keep busy. Surgery has always been a "wait and see." Now it's pretty much a definite. So I'm glad this forum is here and I'll be counting on it a lot in the next few months.

07-15-2005, 07:55 AM
csc : During your 20's and 30's, aside from being physically active, did you do anything at all to help maintain your curvature(just for good measure) through proper exercise or going to the chiropractor? Did this help at all? I understand you were put in a cast, what were the degree of your curves and did it progress into adulthood? I guess since you are now diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis, that i would presume your curves would only get worse from that time on.

07-15-2005, 03:20 PM
I really did not do anything special regarding my condition in my 20s and 30s. I do not trust chiropractors- for whatever reasons. The only limitation I found was during a brief stint as a beautician. I woke two nights just screaming with pain. Figured it was time to change that career goal. I did a lot of swimming, skiing, bicyclying, canoeing - outside sports. I did not feel any pain- so no need to limit activities or whatever I wanted to do.