Scoliosis and Chiropractic Care
Scoliosis is a condition described as a lateral (or sideways) curvature of the spine instead of the usual straight, vertical line. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from behind, the spine should appear to be straight. When the person has scoliosis and is viewed in the same manner, the spine appears to be curved, especially in more prominent cases. Scoliosis is typically diagnosed in a child’s teenage years through a school screening or chiropractic evaluation. It is also found to be more common in girls than boys, specifically ages 10-16.
There are 4 types of scoliosis:
- Congenital scoliosis, which is caused by a bone abnormality and present at birth.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis, which is the result of abnormal muscle or nerve formation. This type is frequently seen with those with spina bifida or cerebral palsy.
- Degenerative scoliosis results from a traumatic injury, bone deformation or collapse, osteoporosis (or thinning of the spinal bones) or major spinal surgery.
- Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis (80% of cases) and there is no known cause or contributing factor. There are numerous theories but none have been found to be conclusive. However, it is known to run in families.
Even a small scoliosis, if left uncorrected as a child, can lead to many health conditions as an adult. A person with scoliosis who is not treated properly will develop spinal osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. Overtime these degenerative changes will interfere with the nerve supply to muscles and vital organs which can cause many health conditions such as: heart problems, breathing (lung) problems, reflux and digestive disturbances, constipation, incontinence, infertility, spinal stenosis, sciatica, arm numbness/tingling, and many other health conditions. Scoliosis leads to unleveled hips, which lead to arthritis and degenerative changes in the hips. Adult scoliosis can also lead to balance issues and reduces the patient’s height as the spinal misalignment contorts the body and decreases stature. It also creates pain and weakness in the buttocks, legs and feet due to compression (pressure) of the sciatic nerve. Loss of bowel and bladder control can also arise due to compression of the lumbar (low back) nerves that supply this region.
Traditional medical/orthopedic treatment options for scoliosis depend on the severity of the curve measured by x-ray analysis. Most of the time a smaller degree scoliosis is just "watched" until it progresses to the point that the scoliosis is considered a concern. If a curve progresses and is measured to be less than 25 degrees, stretches and rehabilitative exercises are typically recommended. The child is monitored every 3-4 months watching to see if the curve continues to worsen. If the curve measures between 25-40 degrees and the patient still shows signs of growth and maturation, bracing is the standard treatment. The goal with bracing is to attempt to halt the progression of the curve, as long as the individual wears the brace as prescribed (23 hours a day, 7 days per week). Due to emotional and sociological issues with wearing a torso brace, many teenagers will not comply with bracing recommendations rendering the treatment unsuccessful. It may provide temporary improvement, but typically, the curve will return to its original size once the brace is not worn daily. If the curve is measured at over 40 degrees (or has not responded to bracing), the patient is considered for surgery. During this procedure, metal rods are surgically attached to the patient’s spine and a spinal fusion is preformed which joins the vertebrae together permanently.
Chiropractic Care and Scoliosis
Chiropractic is a very successful and natural treatment for scoliosis. Chiropractic management of scoliosis consists of chiropractic adjustments to realign the spine, increase spinal range of motion, and remove pressure from the nervous system. Rehabilitative and postural exercises will be prescribed to strengthen and stabilize the muscles that surround and protect the spine. There are numerous case studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic care reducing a scoliosis curve.
One interesting case study was released in 2010 where a 15-year-old girl with a 44 degree curve began chiropractic care. After 5 months, her curve had reduced to 32 degrees and she continued to show signs of progress. Over the years in our office we have seen many patients with scoliosis who have seen similar results with our treatment protocols.
Why People with Scoliosis Should Seek Chiropractic Care
Scoliosis affects between 5-7 million people in America. In most cases, scoliosis develops in children. The vast majority of those affected have a mild form of scoliosis for which the typical medical treatment is “careful observation.” The reason why observation (only stretches and rehab exercises) is the default medical treatment is because most people, especially children, are not going to wear a brace 23 hours a day, and the other option — surgery — is considered a last resort.
80% of individuals with scoliosis typically have a lateral spinal curvature of less than 20 degrees — something that often takes a trained eye to readily observe. However, as you can read in our main article, scoliosis can progress and lead to many health issues as an adult.
Chiropractic care offers a way to reverse scoliosis, or keep it from progressing, and even in some cases completely restore normal function. When a lateral spinal curve is less the 10 degrees, it is no longer consider scoliosis. Chiropractic care provides a pro-active treatment for scoliosis that has shown proven results in the treatment of scoliosis, and is a much better option than the “careful observation” where the only corrective options are wearing a body brace and/or surgery.
How can you tell if you or someone you love may have scoliosis?
The body gives you clues: one shoulder is higher than the other, the head is not carried directly over the pelvis, a prominent shoulder blade, one hip higher than the other, or the entire body is leaning to one side.
If you are looking for alternatives to medications and surgeries for scoliosis, and many other health concerns, please contact the doctors of Kempsville Chiropractic at 757.467.5258, and arrange for a consultation. If you know of others who can benefit from this article, please share and recommend this article.
- Osteoarthritis & how Chiropractic Care Help with Arthritis
- Spinal Stenosis and Chiropractic Care
- Sciatica, Lower Back, and Leg Pain
- Arm Pain and Numbness
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The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.
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