Scoliosis is a progressive, abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. It is a spinal disorder, not a disease. When left untreated, it can cause severe spinal deformity. Usually, it is first detected in childhood or the early teen years while the bones of the spine are still growing. Because the spine and rib cage are connected, severe scoliosis also affects the position of the ribs, pushing them further apart on the outside of the curve, and closer together on the inside. This causes the spine’s “S” curve appearance typical of scoliosis and can produce a raised or drop-effect to the shoulder, a prominent shoulder blade, or one hip somewhat higher that the other. It may also manifest as an exaggerated curve along the length of the spine. One example is the “swayback”, in which the head and the neck are thrust forward and the upper chest area back. It is more pronounced and not to be confused with “poor posture”. Most easily noticeable to the untrained eye is the “humpback”, which gives the whole torso a pulled effect with shoulders raised and a humped protrusion of the upper back. Pressure from severe spinal distortion can also affect surrounding organs. Health risks from severe spine curvature include neurological problems from pressure on nerves, arthritis, and even lung and heart problems.
WHAT CAUSES SCOLIOSIS ?
The root causes of scoliosis are not completely understood. It is true that it may “run” in some families, indicating hereditary factors. Again, it may simply appear as an isolated case in one individual. A variety of nerve and muscle disorders can produce scoliosis. Checkups for signs of scoliosis should continue until full growth is reached. Diseases like polio or any injury in childhood can cause vertebrae to develop abnormally. Scoliosis often appears during the early teen years, and may make pronounced progress during periods of rapid growth. However, it is also found in young children as well.
EARLY DETECTION OF SCOLIOSIS
Most curves are initially detected on school scoliosis screening exams, by a child’s pediatrician or family doctor, or by a parent when summer swimsuit season (bathing suit time) starts. The diagnosis of scoliosis and the determination of the type of curve is then made by a careful exam and an X-ray to evaluate the magnitude of the curve. The most common type of scoliosis begins in late childhood or early adolescence. It is at this time when the majority of curves are detected. You may observe signs of possible scoliosis: however, regular checkups by a health professional are important. Do not rely on your own untrained observations. Answer the following questions:
Is one shoulder higher than the other?
Is one shoulder blade more prominent than the other?
Does one hip seem higher or more prominent that the other?
When the arms hang loosely at the sides, is there more space between the arm and the body on one side than the other?
Does the child appear “swaybacked”?
Does the child appear unusually round-shouldered, or “humpbacked”?
Does the child seem to have a one-sided stance?
HOW CAN SCOLIOSIS BE TREATED?
Unfortunately, in medical management, the most common approach usually is to “wait and see.” While some cases may progress slowly, in others the curves may progress dramatically, creating significant physical deformity. When the problem becomes severe enough, unsightly braces or even surgery is standard treatment.
Scoliosis chiropractic approach is to use specific spinal adjustments along with a very specific and well-defined program of corrective exercises. Typically spinal adjustments are completed with a special instrument or the chiropractor’s hands. They will adjust the specific segment of the spinal column with a precise and forceful movement for this specific treatment of scoliosis. Each motion is adjusted for the patient’s age and size. When chiropractic care and corrective exercises are used in tandem the treatment of scoliosis is most effective. Scoliosis chiropractic treatment can be incredibly beneficial for individuals of every age and size.