Adult idiopathic scoliosis: the tethered spine

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2014 Jan;18(1):99-111. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.05.002. Epub 2013 Jun 14.


This article reports on an observational and treatment study using three case histories to describe common patterns of muscle and fascial asymmetry in adults with idiopathic scoliosis (IS) who have significant scoliotic curvatures that were not surgically corrected and who have chronic pain. Rather than being located in the paraspinal muscles, the myofascial trigger points (TrPs) apparently responsible for the pain were located at some distance from the spine, yet referred pain to locations throughout the thoracolumbar spine. Asymmetries in these muscles appear to tether the spine in such a way that they contribute to scoliotic curvatures. Evaluation also showed that each of these individuals had major ligamentous laxity and this may also have contributed to development of scoliotic curvatures. Treatment focused on release of TrPs found to refer pain into the spine, release of related fascia, and correction of related joint dysfunction. Treatment resulted in substantial relief of longstanding chronic pain. Treatment thus validated the diagnostic hypothesis that myofascial and fascial asymmetries were to some extent responsible for pain in adults with significant scoliotic curvatures. Treatment of these patterns of TrPs and muscle and fascial asymmetries and related joint dysfunction was also effective in relieving pain in each of these individuals after they were injured in auto accidents. Treatment of myofascial TrPs and asymmetrical fascial tension along with treatment of accompanying joint dysfunction is proposed as an effective approach to treating both chronic and acute pain in adults with scoliosis that has not been surgically corrected.

Keywords: Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis; Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome; Chronic Pain; Fascial Pain; Idiopathic Scoliosis; Myofascial Pain Syndrome; Scoliosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Referred / etiology*
  • Pain, Referred / rehabilitation*
  • Paraspinal Muscles / physiopathology
  • Patient Participation
  • Scoliosis / complications*
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology
  • Spine / physiopathology*
  • Trigger Points / physiopathology*