Scoliosis comes from a Greek word that means crookedness. When you have scoliosis, your spine’s straight position begins to curve sideways. It can curve in one spot (C-shaped) or as a double curve (S-shaped). The most common area that scoliosis can develop is in the mid back and lower back.
In most cases, the vertebrae are also rotated. In more than 80% of cases, the cause of scoliotic curvatures is unknown; we call this condition idiopathic scoliosis. In other cases, trauma, neurological disease, tumors, and the like are responsible. Functional scoliosis is often caused by some postural problem, muscle spasm, or leg-length inequality, which can often be addressed. Structural scoliosis does not reduce with postural maneuvers. Either type can be idiopathic or have an underlying cause.
What can you do about scoliosis?
There are generally 3 treatment options for scoliosis— careful observation, bracing, and surgery. Careful observation is the most common “treatment,” as most mild scolioses do not progress and cause few, if any, physical problems. This is where chiropractic care can come into play.
Chiropractic spinal manipulation, therapeutic exercise, and electrical muscle stimulation have been advocated in the treatment of scoliosis. Though it may not completely “fix” the scoliosis or correct it, chiropractic care and rehabilitation exercises can help prevent the curvature from getting worse. There are some cases where chiropractic has been able to reduce scoliosis, but no large studies have been conducted. For patients with back pain associated with scoliosis, chiropractic adjustments can help reduce the pain.
A second treatment option is bracing. Bracing is generally reserved for children who have not reached skeletal maturity (the time when the skeleton stops growing), and who have curves between 25 and 45 degrees. Again, chiropractic care can help prevent further development of the curvature and reduce any pain.
The third treatment option is surgery. Surgery is generally used in the few cases where the curves are greater than 45 degrees and progressive, and/or when the scoliosis may affect the function of the heart, lungs, or other vital organs.
If you know of someone suffering from scoliosis, tell them to try chiropractic!