What is scoliosis? Should you be concerned? Can chiropractic help? Should I get a brace? Do I need surgery?
I remember being in middle school getting screened for scoliosis every year in gym class. At the time, I don't think I even knew what scoliosis was. I just knew that once a year, I'd go to gym class, and they'd look at my back, have me bend forward, then look at my back again. June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month, so this week we'll be diving in to scoliosis.
The simplest definition is that scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Your spine is supposed to have curves when you look at it from the side but not from the front/back. Scoliosis is when you have curves that go to the side.
The curves you can see in the normal spine help with the natural physics and structure of the spine. In Scoliosis, you get an S or C shaped spine. In 80-85% of all cases the cause of scoliosis is unknown (aka idiopathic in science talk).
The severity of scoliosis is determined by how big the abnormal curvatures are. The bigger the curve(s) the more drastic the side effects. Doctors will use radiographic imaging (x-rays) to measure the size of the curve. The standard measurement for scoliosis is the Cobb Angle. Using the Cobb Angle, scoliosis is defined by a curve of 10° or more. Using the imaging, the cases are defined as mild (10°-25°), moderate (26°-40°), or severe (>40°).
When it comes to treating scoliosis, chiropractic care makes sense! Chiropractors are neuromusculoskeletal doctors. We work with keeping the body aligned. Since most cases of scoliosis have unknown causes, it can be tricky to treat them. What chiropractic can do is work with the musculature around the area of the curve. We can work on tight muscles which may be contributing to or a result of the abnormal curve. We can work on maintaining joint movement in the spine. We can also provide exercises to help strengthen the posture muscles and stabilize your body.
The goal when it comes to patients with scoliosis it to catch it early. If you can catch it early and use chiropractic care to manage your scoliosis, you may be able to help stop the progression and even correct the curve. A study published earlier this year showed that 90% of patients that participated in a chiropractic rehabilitation treatment for idiopathic adolescent scoliosis had curve correction or stabilization.
If the curve keeps progressing, and it gets to the moderate or severe stages, bracing becomes more pressing treatment option. If chiropractic care and bracing aren't helping, a surgical consult may be the next step.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us at Select Chiropractic and Wellness.