Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine
It’s estimated that around 6 million Americans have some form of scoliosis. Usually, it occurs in an ‘S’ shape. This looked like curves to the right in the upper back and to the left in the lower back.
Generally, people have slight curves. Those are often a result of mild structural abnormalities, trauma, or subluxation. Slight curves will usually straighten when that person bends forward or from side to side. These slight curves are considered “functional scoliosis”.
The more dramatic curvature is called True or “structural scoliosis”. This curve does not straighten with movements of the spine. True scoliosis affects from 1-5% of children ages 10 to 16 (60-80% of which are female).
Scoliosis often causes back pain, headache, and other posture-related disorders. Some severe curvature can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems due to a lack of space within the ribcage. A scoliosis is classified based on measurements taken from a full spine x-ray.
The Medical Approach
One study concluded that in-school scoliosis screenings were ineffective. For that reason, it stressed that parents and health care professionals should monitor the children instead. Medical treatment is limited. As a result, medical treatment is delayed until the curve increases enough to require a brace or surgery. Medical professionals typically won’t intervene until a curve is larger than 20 degrees.
There is some debate on how effective bracing the spine is. There is concern that wearing a brace affects appearance. This can create self-esteem issues and limit the ability to be active. As a result, the need to wear the brace for 23 hours a day is often ignored. The effect of a brace with a curve less than 35 degrees is minimal at best.
Surgery is a highly invasive procedure. For this reason, it is typically only utilized for very rare cases. These cases are more often only the ones which progress rapidly and inhibit organ function.
Chiropractic and Scoliosis
Chiropractors evaluate spines and posture daily as well as utilize full spine x-ray regularly. As a result, there is no practitioner more qualified to diagnose scoliosis.
Chiropractors apply treatment when the curve is most mild. They evaluate for a number of potential causes. These causes can range from leg length discrepancy, subluxation, upper neck mechanical problems, vertebral malformation, and others. Above all, they treat to avoid invasive approaches.
Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective in managing the common complaints associated with scoliosis. A study of 1000 young chiropractic patients found an improvement in curvature in 84% of those involved. After the age of 25, bone has completely calcified and any correction becomes more difficult. However symptom management is very effective. In those very rare cases of severe scoliosis, the chiropractor will refer out for the next appropriate step in care.
What should you do if you suspect you or your child has scoliosis?
We are currently accepting new patients. If this is something you are concerned about, we strongly encourage you to make an appointment.
Many of the children we have seen have had tremendous results because they got here before it was too late. If we cannot help your child, we will tell you right away and send you to someone who can.