The spine is meant to have curves. It is the curves that give us the typical “S” shape we commonly think of when we think of our spine. These natural curve gives us our body shape and supports our weight adequately. The neck and low back have the same curve, called a lordosis. The mid-back has a different curve called kyphosis, which gives us a rounded shoulder appearance. Sometimes, the spine curves sideways. This is called scoliosis.
What is scoliosis?
Looking at your back, the spine is supposed to be straight from top to bottom. Scoliosis is an abnormality that causes the spine to develop with abnormal curves, side to side. Usually the lordotic and kyphotic curves are present, the spine is just shifted to the right or the left. When the spine has a curve pushing left or pushing right, there may be some noticeable features that we can visually see. We may see uneven hips, shoulders, and skin folds. We may also see the rib cage protruding backward, called rib humping.
Most times, scoliosis is diagnosed in the adolescent years. Screening for scoliosis has become common practice in most schools, therefore detection of scoliosis has increased in school-age children. Scoliosis can be diagnosed in infancy and in adulthood. If diagnosed in adulthood, the scoliosis has more than likely been present since childhood.
Scoliosis detection is very important! If left untreated, scoliosis can lead to health issues down the road. Based on the severity of the curve, complications such as pulmonary/cardiac compromise, degenerative disc disease within the spine, and arthritis can occur.
Types of scoliosis:
- Idiopathic – this form is the most common, accounting for more than 80% of all scoliosis cases! The downfall? The cause is unknown. It is believed that there may be a hereditary connection.
- Infantile – diagnosed between birth and 3 years. Commonly, it will resolve
- Juvenile – diagnosed between 3 and 10 years old
- Adolescent – the most common type; diagnosed between 10 years old and maturity
- Congenital – this form develops in the womb, before birth.
- Neuromuscular – this form is commonly found in children who have medical conditions that impair the nervous system and muscular system
- Other – scoliosis associated with other spinal deformities and medical conditions
How is it Diagnosed?
Scoliosis is assessed through a physical exam, simply observing the spine both standing still and with bending forward. The physician will look for a spine that curves to one side, pelvic/hips/shoulders unevenness, rib humping, and irregular posture. X-ray is key in diagnosis and prognosis. Assessment of the severity of the curve is critical to choose the best treatment.
Treatment Options for Scoliosis
After the determination of the curve severity through measurement on imaging, treatment, and management of the scoliosis will be chosen:
- Less than 20° curve = monitor and supportive treatment
- 20°-40° curve = brace and supportive treatment
- More than 40° curve = surgical intervention
Some common natural treatment options associated with scoliosis include chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy
Chiropractic Care and Scoliosis
While chiropractic care cannot cure scoliosis, it can help support the spine and structures surrounding the spine. The overarching goal of chiropractic care in patients with scoliosis is to prevent further injuries from happening, such as arthritis and disc degeneration. Chiropractors are trained to correct misalignments in the spine, supporting the natural curve that is present. With scoliosis…pain, inflammation, and poor flexibility can be common. Chiropractic manipulation, soft tissue release treatment, and proper strengthening/stretching exercises can decrease the symptoms associated with scoliosis and improve your overall quality of life!
Contact Miller Sports & Family Chiropractic today to better manage the pain and discomfort commonly associated with scoliosis. Even if we can’t fix that curve, we can help support the spine…having you just feeling better! We’re ready for you!