Many people know that scoliosis makes your back look funny but they don’t actually know what it really is. People are diagnosed with scoliosis, and then they don’t have any idea what to do about it! Scoliosis comes from the Greek: skoliosis meaning from skolios, “crooked”. So scoliosis is literally a crooked spine. Now, how is it determined if you have scoliosis? Scoliosis can form at any age, however; it is most often diagnosed in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 15 years old. You may remember your school nurse performing the Adams Forward Bend Test on you as an adolescent. She simply had you bend forward and if a prominence was noted, you were sent out for an X-ray. This test is not all that reliable; therefore the X-ray is definitely needed to confirm diagnoses. If an X-ray is taken and there is a sideways curve larger than 10 degrees, it is scoliosis. Scoliosis is always a sideways curvature, not be confused with lordosis (abnormal curvature towards the front) or kyphosis (abnormal curvature toward the back).
If you have children you may be wondering, “Is my child at risk for developing scoliosis?” If you are not trained it would be difficult to notice it developing. Roughly 80% of cases are unknown; this is referred to as idiopathic scoliosis. Things such as neurological disease, tumors, and trauma make up the other 20%. There is also evidence that it is sometimes genetic. Most cases of scoliosis are mild and not very progressive. In fact, most people maintain 20 degrees or less of curvature. Young girls are actually the ones who mostly make up the group that progresses to 25 degrees or higher. Scoliosis can alter quality of life with no treatment. It can cause pain, decreased lung function, and decreased heart function.
So, is there anything you can do to treat scoliosis? Aside from the most common treatment of “keeping an eye on it”, your options are bracing, therapy, chiropractic, massage or surgery. Surgery, of course, should always be your last option. Bracing is usually done with children who have not reached skeletal maturity, and whose curvature is between 25-45 degrees. The spine of a person with scoliosis can look like an S or C do to the extreme misalignments in the vertebrae. This for sure, makes it a chiropractic issue! Chiropractors deal with vertebrae, nerves, and muscles. These are all the things a person with scoliosis has trouble with. Their muscles are tight, nerves are compressed, and the vertebrae are not where they should be.
A report of 100 chiropractic patients with scoliosis showed 84% of patients improved: 6-8% total correction, 35.6% significant correction, 41.2% small correction, and 16.4% no change. While chiropractic may not be able to completely heal a patient of scoliosis, it can definitely improve it, and at the minimum loosen muscles and take pressure off compressed nerves; which is what causes pain in scoliosis patients. In our office, we have had multiple patients with scoliosis show a significant decrease in curvature and pain.
There are many health problems that begin with problems in your spine. Come into the office today for an exam if you have any health concerns. If you know anyone who has, or is concerned they have scoliosis, send them our way! We can help!