Scoliosis is a term that is sometimes met with many reactions. Sometimes confusion or even fear. Scoliosis is a simple descriptive term. It was derived from the Greek word skolíōsis meaning crooked or bent. Today it’s a word to describe a curvature of the spine. Scoliosis refers to a spine that is curved from the back to the front. A normal spine should be relatively straight however with scoliosis we see a spine that is curved from the back to front.
Scoliosis is often used as an “umbrella” term to describe a curvature of the spine. It doesn’t provide any specifics much like a “disc bulge” or “sciatica”. We avoid the diagnosis of scoliosis and help provide our patients with a specific diagnosis.
Scoliosis is commonly seen in early childhood and extends into early to late teenage years. This is sometimes picked up early with screening tests or simply observing a child’s posture. It is also commonly not picked up and can progress without intervention and then only diagnosed in adult years.
There are 2 basic types of scoliosis.
Structural scoliosis, meaning the spine has developed scoliosis due to a disorder or disease such as hemi vertebrae, true leg length discrepancy, Klippel Feil syndrome, idiopathic scoliosis or possibly as developmental disorder that has a genetic link such as, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers- Danlos syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis. Structural scoliosis are easily identifiable with postural exam.
Functional scoliosis, meaning the spine has developed scoliosis due to improper nerve and muscle function. It also can develop from having a problem in another area of the spine. Functional scoliosis is commonly seen in our population. This is due to improper muscle, nerve and joint dysfunction as a result either an acute injury or accumulative nerve and skeletal stress. Functional scoliosis can be seen through postural exam however can sometimes be subtler to observe.
Like with any scoliosis, assessing the severity and grade of it is best done through thorough examination in form of nerve, muscle, orthopaedic tests as well as X-Rays.Learn About Our Free Initial Consultation →
How to Treat It
Our chiropractors work with people with all types of scoliosis. Chiropractors specialize in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of spinal condition. It’s important to first establish what type of scoliosis we are presented with. Scoliosis needs a specialized approach and our first goal is to establish what is appropriate for you.
Scoliosis responds to SPECIFIC treatment. Spinal adjustments without proper assessment can result in worsening the symptoms as well as the condition.
We can help with either structural or functional scoliosis types. Chiropractic can help to relieve and ease the symptoms associated with structural scoliosis. However, the best results are seen with functional scoliosis cases. As functional scoliosis’s present because of improper nerve and muscle function, chiropractic care is effective at addressing the source of the problem not just merely the symptoms.
Chiropractic adjustments first and foremost improves the function of nerves and joints of the spine. The effects of a chiropractic adjustment can be seen not only in muscles but also in the nerve function. Improving the connection between the brain and the muscles and joints in the area, sees a restoration of normal function. Case studies have shown that just improvement of the nerves of the spine alone has shown to reduce progression and severity of scoliosis. A case study looking at a child with scoliosis, showed significant improvement of scoliosis from 17° in the mid back and 12.5° in the lower back to 0° and 3° respectively. All the changes were seen in as little as 5 adjustments over 5 months (1)
Another case study looking at a 14yo girl with a scoliosis that was rapidly worsening at a rate of 1° per month. The advice was for surgical intervention. She presented with a scoliosis of 27°. Over 5 months, the progression stopped and her scoliosis improved 15% in the long term(2)
Once the brain is reconnected to muscles and joints that haven’t been working well, the next step is to retrain the muscles and joints to function properly. As part of your treatment plan, we tailor an exercise program for you that specifically targets the muscles needing improvement. We’ve found that coupling your adjustments with a tailored exercise program produces changes seen in the short as well as the long term.
Whether you have a child who you are concerned that may have scoliosis, or an adult living with scoliosis, we can help!
1. Eriksen K. Chiropr Res J, 1996; 3(3):25-33
2. Aspegren DD, Cox JM. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1987;10:147-156
Can chiropractic cure my scoliosis?
Chiropractic can help diagnose and treat your specific type of scoliosis. There are many types of scoliosis with differing prognosis’s. It’s important to know that scoliosis is absolutely treatable but not all cases are “curable”. Structural scoliosis require a re-framing of our thinking from short term cure to long term management. However, the right management plan will ensure you live with very few limitations. Functional scoliosis cases have higher success rate. It’s important to discuss your long term prognosis with your chiropractor as each person is different.
What’s the difference between a structural and functional scoliosis?
Structural scoliosis are a result of a disorder or disease process. Whereas functional scoliosis are developed over time. It’s a result of compensation from another cause. In many cases this is either to subluxation, trauma or progressive skeletal stress.
What are my realistic expectations for managing scoliosis?
It’s important to know that scoliosis is absolutely treatable but not all cases are “curable”. It’s important to understand what type of scoliosis you have. As each type have differing prognosis’s. Some can be improved in the short and others in the long. Some types need long term management.
In many cases of scoliosis it’s important reframe our thinking from short term cure to long term management.
When is it too late to treat scoliosis?
Scoliosis is best detected early in life rather than later. This helps to monitor and manage the type of scoliosis. This is why we encourage all parents to have their child’s spine checked. Best of all, at our office, its FREE!
Scoliosis is treatable but in not all cases “curable”. Severity, progression and age are all factors to consider. As the scoliosis curvature increases, so does the amount of intervention, monitoring and practitioners employed to manage the case. But in all cases, chiropractic can help to manage scoliosis.
What if chiropractic care doesn’t help?
At My Health Chiro we endeavour to provide the best care possible. If at any point we find that your treatment plan isn’t achieving our intended goals, we will make sure we find out why. If we find at any point we are unable to help you toward your goal, we will find someone who will. We want to make sure you get the care you need, not waste your time or money! With scoliosis, monitoring is important. We will work with your medical doctors as well as other allied health professionals to ensure you get the best care possible. If we find that your care is best placed elsewhere, we’ll ensure we’ll get to the person who can help.
Do I need a referral from my GP to see a Chiropractor for my scoliosis?
No! You can visit a chiropractor without a referral. As chiropractors specialise in conditions of the spine, we will work with your GP to ensure that you are being best cared for. As chiropractors we monitor and assess your scoliosis and provide your GP with more in depth information about your condition. We will make recommendations, based on your case, whether further action is needed.