Manual therapy as a conservative treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: a systematic review

Scoliosis. 2008 Jan 22;3:2. doi: 10.1186/1748-7161-3-2.


Background: The treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is contingent upon many variables. Simple observation is enough for less serious curvatures, but for very serious cases surgical intervention could be proposed. Between these there is a wide range of different treatments. Manual therapy is commonly used: the aim of this paper is to verify the data existing in the literature on the efficacy of this approach.

Methods: A systematic review of the scientific literature published internationally has been performed. We have included in the term manual therapy all the manipulative and generally passive techniques performed by an external operator. In a more specific meaning, osteopathic, chiropractic and massage techniques have been considered as manipulative therapeutic methods. We performed our systematic research in Medline, Embase, Cinhal, Cochrane Library, Pedro with the following terms: idiopathic scoliosis combined with chiropractic; manipulation; mobilization; manual therapy; massage; osteopathy; and therapeutic manipulation. The criteria for inclusion were as follows: Any kind of research; diagnosis of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; patients treated exclusively by one of the procedures established as a standard for this review (chiropractic manipulation, osteopathic techniques, massage); and outcome in Cobb degrees.

Results: We founded 145 texts, but only three papers were relevant to our study. However, no one of the three satisfied all the required inclusion criteria because they were characterized by a combination of manual techniques and other therapeutic approaches.

Conclusion: The lack of any kind of serious scientific data does not allow us to draw any conclusion on the efficacy of manual therapy as an efficacious technique for the treatment of Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.