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Acupuncture for Scoliosis

author image Jan Millehan
Jan Millehan has published articles relating to health, fitness and disease on various websites. Her publishing history includes health-related articles on blogs and online directories, as well as an essay published in the Bridgewater College journal, "Philomathean." Millehan received a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Bridgewater College.
Acupuncture for Scoliosis
An acupuncturist holding a needle and model of the human figure. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Acupuncture, an ancient traditinal Chinese medicine, focuses on balancing energy pathways in your body to promote optimal health. According to research findings published in 2008 in the journal "Scoliosis," acupuncture can help slow the progression of an abnormal sideways curvature of your spine, called scoliosis. Consult your doctor before receiving acupuncture treatments to treat scoliosis or any other condition.


Acupuncture, used worldwide to control pain and other conditions, involves the stimulation of points on your body using a number or techniques. However, the most scientifically studied method consists of the insertion of thin, metallic needles into your skin that are manually manipulated or manipulated by electrical stimulation. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that optimal health depends on an internal balance of energy forces, called yin and yang. Yin stands for slow, passive energy; while, yang represents excited, active energy in your body. According to this theory, an imbalance of these forces promotes disease by blocking pathways, or meridians, that allow the unrestricted flow of vital energy, or qi, throughout your body. Acupuncture aims to unblock your vital energy flow by targeting specific points on your body related to these meridians. Although generally considered safe, consult your doctor before trying acupuncture to ease any condition.


No cure exists for this spinal deformity that affects around six million people in the United States. Scoliosis, or kyphoscoliosis, which causes an abnormal curvature of your spine, can result from the improper formation of your spinal bones before birth as well as from diseases that cause muscle weakness and paralysis, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida. Another form of scoliosis, called idiopathic scoliosis, occurs for unknown reasons in a number of adolescents, according to PubMed Health. Scoliosis can also result from the age-related breakdown of your spinal column. Symptoms of this spinal deformity include low-back pain, uneven hips or shoulders, a spine that curves abnormally to your side or, in some cases, an abnormal front-to-back spinal curvature. Moreover, you might experience fatigue in your spine after sitting or standing for long durations. Traditional treatments for scoliosis, which depend on its cause and severity, can include a back brace or surgery. However, acupuncture might also decrease symptoms of this deformity.

Idiopathic Scoliosis

A January 2008 study conducted at Germany's Asklepios Katharina Schroth Spinal Deformities Rehabilitation Centre observed the effects of acupuncture in 24 girls between the ages of 14 and 16 with the diagnosis of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. On the first day, researchers divided girls into two groups that received 25-minute sessions of either sham acupuncture -- with needles placed at incorrect points -- or real acupuncture treatment sessions. Groups were changed the next day, so that all participants received one real acupuncture treatment. Although no improvement was observed in subjects with spinal curvatures over 35 degrees, statistically significant improvements were noted after real acupuncture treatment in a subgroup of patients with spinal curvatures that ranged from 16 to 35 degrees. While findings indicate that one real session of acupuncture appears to decrease the deformity of scoliosis in some people, additional scientific evidence is needed to conclusively prove the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat symptoms of this disorder.

Pain and Scoliosis

Acupuncture may also benefit older individuals suffering from adult degenerative scoliosis, which appears due the combined factors of age and deterioration of the spine. Research published in the August 2009 edition of the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” observed the effects of acupuncture on low-back pain and curvature progression in adult degenerative scoliosis. An elderly female patient, aged 74, experienced low-back pain and scoliosis for two years -- despite traditional treatments, such as rehabilitation and medication. After receiving acupuncture treatments three times weekly for a period of six weeks, the subject’s back pain not only lessened, but the curvature of her spine also decreased. Findings suggest that acupuncture plays a key role in pain control and can also improve curvature progression in some patients with degenerative scoliosis. However, insufficient clinical evidence exists to conclusively prove the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of pain and degenerative scoliosis.

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