Scoliosis and Chiropractic Treatment
Scoliosis is a lateral (or sideways) curvature of the spine. When you view a normal spine from behind an individual, the spine should appear to be in a straight, vertical line. Scoliosis affects somewhere between 5-7 million individuals in America alone. 80% of these individuals will have a lateral curvature of the spine that is less than 20° — which typically takes a trained eye to ascertain. In more prominent cases, scoliosis can be readily observed. Often, an individual with scoliosis will have one shoulder higher than the other, uneven hips, or even their entire body may be leaning to one side. Diagnosis of scoliosis typically takes place during the teenage years, and often by a chiropractor or at a school screening. Scoliosis is more common in girls than boys, and is most often discovered between the ages of 10-16.
Four Types of Scoliosis
- Congenital Scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is present at birth, and is caused by a bone abnormality.
- Degenerative Scoliosis: This scoliosis is the result of a traumatic injury, osteoporosis (thinning of the spinal bones), bone collapse or deformation, or even from major spinal surgery.
- Idiopathic Scoliosis: Idiopathic means that this condition arises spontaneously without any know cause. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis, and has been observed to run in families.
- Neuromuscular Scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is commonly seen in individuals with cerebral palsy or spinal bifida, and is the result of an irregular nerve or muscle formation.
What Happens When Scoliosis Goes Untreated?
Like any problem left uncorrected, scoliosis left untreated will lead to future health problems. Even a small scoliosis that a child may have can lead to degenerative disc disease and spinal osteoarthritis as an adult. Degenerative changes such as these will interfere with the nerve supply to vital organs and muscles, which in turn will lead to additional health problems.
- Acid reflux
- Arm numbness and/or tingling
- Breathing problems (lung)
- Digestive issues
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Spinal stenosis
- And many other health conditions.
Adult scoliosis will create problems with your balance, and a reduction in height as the lateral curvature of the spine bends the body out of shape and decreases stature. In adults, long-term scoliosis leads to unleveled hips, which causes degenerative changes and arthritis in the hips. Compression on the sciatic nerve and lower back can cause bowel and bladder control problems, and pain and weakness in the buttocks, running down the legs all the way to the feet.
Scoliosis and Chiropractic Care
Treatment of scoliosis through medical/orthopedic care usually comes down to 3 options. With mild cases, less than 25°, they do nothing — just observe to see if it gets worse. Stage 2 would be having the individual wear a torso brace 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. At Stage 3, over 40°, they will usually recommend the surgical insertion of metal rods and a spinal fusion to join the vertebrae together permanently. (The photo to the right shows an x-ray of metal rods inserted during a surgery to try to correct scoliosis.)
Chiropractic care on the other hand provides a non-invasive, pro-active treatment proven to help those with scoliosis. For the vast majority of those with scoliosis, proper chiropractic adjustments that gently help to bring the spine back to its normal position is extremely effective, and much better than just “observation” that offers no help at all.
Chiropractic adjustments at World Class Chiropractic will help to increase the range of spinal motion, remove pressure on the nervous system, and help straighten the unnatural lateral curvature of the spine. In addition to adjustments, individuals suffering with scoliosis will be given exercises to strengthen and stabilize the muscles that protect and support the spine. Chiropractic care is a proven way to help correct scoliosis. In a case from 2010, chiropractors treated a 15-year-old girl with a scoliosis curve of 44°. This is at the point where most orthopedics would be recommending surgery. Yet, within just 5 months her curvature had been reduced to 32°, and in continuing treatment she showed further improvement.
At World Class Chiropractic we believe chiropractic adjustments are a much better treatment than the options of doing nothing, the embarrassment and inconvenience of wearing a torso brace, and the irreversible issues of surgery. If you are looking for an alternative to surgery or wearing a brace for scoliosis, chiropractic care is a proven way to reverse scoliosis, keep it from progressing, or even completely restore normal function (a lateral spinal curve of less than 10° is not considered scoliosis), please contact World Class Chiropractic at 410.461.3435 and arrange for a consultation. If you have friends or family that can benefit from this article, please recommend this article to them.