Scoliosis is a physical defect in the spine that causes it to curve from side to side, making it appear like it forms an S- or C-shape rather than a straight line when a person is viewed from behind. In severe cases, scoliosis must be treated with surgery, but in more mild cases a physical therapy regimen may be prescribed by your physician. One type of physical therapy that is not often used but may have mild positive effects is inversion therapy.
Stretching is a common exercise on an inversion table and it may offer temporary pain relief for people with scoliosis. While you are inverted on the table, the effects of gravity are reversed on your spine and your body becomes elongated. Repeatedly entering an inverted state is believed to force fresh blood through your muscles and fluid into your spinal discs. This is believed to provide temporary pain relief in the hours following inversion therapy, but will not likely have a permanent effect.
Inversion therapy is believed by some to aid in posture correction, which can be beneficial if you have scoliosis. According to the Sports Injury Clinic website, increased blood flow to your muscles helps to reduce back spasms. The reduction of these spasms may help in the realignment of the spine and thus improve posture without painful braces. However, there is not much scientific research to back the validity of the assumption that regular inversion therapy will help your posture.
The rectus abdominis is the sectioned muscle that covers your stomach and forms what is commonly known as the six-pack. This muscle is partly responsible for the forward movement of your spine. Inversion tables can be used to perform sit-ups and crunches that strengthen your rectus abdominis. This in turn will help you sit and stand straighter without tiring. The greater the inversion you undertake, the more you will gain muscle in your abdomen from exercising.
Unfortunately, scoliosis is a complex disease that is affected by many unknown factors on a patient-to-patient basis. According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, 85 percent of scoliosis cases are classified as idiopathic, meaning that the causes are largely unknown. Research into inversion therapy and spinal traction to treat scoliosis is limited. This type of therapy may bring temporary relief to patients, but should only be used as part of a wider treatment plan designed by your physician.