In the years I have worked as an acupuncturist, I have treated many cases of scoliosis. Although conventional medicine sees this as a condition that is difficult to correct without the use of a brace or without surgery, I have found many cases to be very responsive to acupuncture. Generally speaking, the condition is often due to an imbalance in the strength of the left side and the right side of the back. There may also be an imbalance in the hips that the spine has to compensate for.
The general method for treating patients with scoliosis is to strengthen the weaker side of the back, and to relax the tighter, stronger side of the back. Points along the Urinary Bladder Meridian, Huatuojiaji points, and points along the Du Meridian are used. There is also a Japanese protocol that balances out both sides of the hip using magnets that I have found to be very effective.
Certain herbs can also improve outcomes by helping to strengthen the back. Chinese herbs that are focused on clearing stagnation and tonifying the Kidney energy are very helpful. The western herb Solomon’s Seal in tincture form is also very good at balancing out the tendons and ligaments on both sides of the back while strengthening the spine.
I have seen both C shaped and S shaped curvatures respond well to treatment. The curves actually diminish over time, often quite rapidly, in the majority of clients I have worked with. People also see improvements in terms of a reduction of pain and discomfort as well. In my practice I have seen curves as severe as 45 degrees improve within a few weeks of treatment. I have frequently seen major improvements in the angle of curvature after even one session.
There was one recent study from Taiwan on the use of acupuncture for scoliosis.
The Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine published a study in 2009 about adult degenerative scoliosis treated by acupuncture. The researchers found that after six weeks of treatment, the angle of curvature of the spine was reduced by ten degrees in a patient with a 35 degree curve. This was after two years of conventional treatment that had failed to stop the patient’s progression of curvature.
In order for people to see the best results from acupuncture treatment for scoliosis, it is important to strengthen the weaker side of the back by using it for weight bearing activity, and to regularly stretch out the stronger side of the back in order to relieve stored tension. Eventually, the body develops greater symmetry and the spine has the capacity to correct itself to a great degree.
J Altern Comp Med 2009 Aug;15(8):935-7. Adult degenerative scoliosis treated by acupuncture. Liu CT, Chen KC, Chiu EH. Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.