Scoliosis is a medical condition wherein the spin, in addition to the normal front to back curvature has an abnormal side to side ‘S’ or ‘C’ shared curvature. In most cases, the spine is also twisted or rotated, pulling the ribs along with it, forming a multi-dimensional curve.
Scoliosis is not a rare condition, as it is known to affect many children, especially among girls. However, most parents are not aware of the condition and have ever sought treatment. In fact, according to studies 3 to 5 schoolchildren out of every 1, 000 develop spinal curves that require treatment.
Scoliosis is diagnosed and treated as one of the three main types:
This condition is associated with neuromuscular condition such as spina bifida, myopathy and cerebral palsy.
This is the most common form of scoliosis and has no definite cause, mainly affecting adolescent girls. However, it exists in three age groups:
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis
- Infantile (early-onset) idiopathic scoliosis
This type of scoliosis is present at birth and is caused by a failure of the vertebrae to form normally.
Adult or Degenerative Scoliosis
Sometimes, scoliosis goes unnoticed-or untreated-during childhood. In that case, the scoliosis can cause problems later in adult life. Degenerative, or age-related, changes to the spine can also cause scoliosis in adults. Osteoporosis, disc degeneration, a spinal compression fracture, or a combination of these problems can contribute to the development of adult scoliosis.
What Happens When Scoliosis Is Untreated
Like any health issues 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. The 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.
- Arm numbness and/or tingling
- Heart problems
- Acid reflux
- Breathing problems (lung)
- High blood pressure
- Digestive issues
- Spinal stenosis
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.
In addition, the 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.
Chiropractic For Scoliosis
Chiropractors don't treat conditions, including scoliosis, per se, but instead can detect any vertebral subluxations and correct them with gentle chiropractic adjustments. Research shows that chiropractic has had good clinical results in scoliosis control, reduction, and correction. A report of 100 chiropractic patients revealed improvement in 84% of the patients and no worsening of the curve in the other 16%.
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.