Why Avoid Surgery?
Surgery is not a cure, but rather, in the words of Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss (grandson of Katharina Schroth), it substitutes one pathology -- a stiff spine -- for another. The unsolved underlying issue, paraspinal muscular imbalances, means that the spine may continue to twist above and below the fusion, causing pain or other problems as the patient ages. If the patient has already had surgery, Schroth therapy can help restore normal posture and reduce pain.
Since spinal fusion is extremely invasive, there is risk of adverse consequences such as pain, infection, broken implants, failed fusion, and necessity of revision surgery. The more surgeries, the higher the probability of complications, including death. See this study:
Mortality and Morbidity in Early-Onset Scoliosis Surgery.
3 Success Stories
1) Schroth Therapy Reduces Curves, Avoids Surgery
In 1991 a clinical study compared patients with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) at two clinics: an Irish clinic that does NOT practice the Schroth Method, and Dr. Rigo's Schroth Method clinic in Barcelona.
- 28% of the patients at the Irish clinic went on to have spinal fusion surgery
- Only 6% of patients at Dr. Rigo's Schroth Method clinic had to undergo surgery
Source: Rigo M, Reiter Ch, Weiss HR. "Effect of conservative management on the prevalence of surgery in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis." Pediatric Rehabilitation 2003 Jul-Dec;6(3-4):209-14.
2) Schroth Patients are Less Likely to Suffer Curve Progression
A control group of untreated patients was compared to a similar group that received scoliosis in-patient rehabilitation (SIR) at the Katharina Schroth Klinik. Some of the SIR patients had more severe curvatures. However, the untreated control group's curvature progressed 2 - 3 times more than those treated with SIR according to the Schroth Method.
Source: Weiss HR, Weiss G, Petermann F. "Incidence of curvature progression in idiopathic scoliosis patients treated with scoliosis in-patient rehabilitation (SIR): an age- and sex-matched controlled study." Pediatric Rehabilitation 2003 Jan-Mar;6(1):23-30.
3) Schroth Patients Showed No Curve Progression 3 Years After Treatment
This study begun in 1989 included 181 scoliosis patients with:
- Average age: 12.7 years
- Average Cobb angle curvature: 27 degrees
- Average risser sign: 1.4
After an average follow up of 33 months, there was no progression of curvature
Source: Weiss HR, Lohschmidt K, el-Obeidi N, Verres C. "Preliminary results and worst-case analysis of in patient scoliosis rehabilitation." Pediatric Rehabilitation 1997 Vol. 1(1): 35-40.