If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis, you’re not alone. According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, approximately seven million people are living with scoliosis in the United States, and four out of every 100 people are affected globally. Although scoliosis can result from genetic conditions, in many cases, the cause is unknown (idiopathic scoliosis). No matter the cause of this sideways curvature of your spine, it’s important to understand the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible. Thankfully, treatment for scoliosis has improved rapidly over recent years, and chiropractors are leading the way. New forms of chiropractic treatment for scoliosis, which also incorporate physical therapy, can help minimize your pain, improve your range of motion, lessen the curvature, and help stop the progression of the condition.
Types and Symptoms of Scoliosis
Scoliosis is defined as a curvature above 10 degrees and with rotation of the spine. Scoliosis is a long-term condition either formed during youth or is the result of long-term poor posture, which develops into adult onset scoliosis. There is also pseudo-scoliosis, or spinal misalignments, such as poor posture or a short leg, that present similarly to scoliosis.
Below are the four types of scoliosis:
- Idiopathic scoliosis: This is scoliosis of unknown origins. Unfortunately, this is the most common type of scoliosis.
- Degenerative scoliosis: Generally seen in people older than 50, this scoliosis especially begins to rapidly form in those older than 60. Long-term poor posture and untreated misalignments, combined with the aging body, hormonal changes, and muscle decline, deform the spine into scoliosis.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is due to neurologic imbalances or traumas, which can cause spasms of core musculature on one side. These nerve-driven spasms are constant and pull the spine into a scoliotic position.
- Congenital scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is formed from birth and is associated with malformation of the spine and pelvis.
Age and Scoliosis
Adult Scoliosis: Adult scoliosis can be progressive and chronically painful, especially in the lower back and hip regions. Adults may have pre-existing scoliosis, known as Adolescent Scoliosis in Adults (ASA), or Degenerative De-Novo Scoliosis (DDS), which results from spinal degeneration with no history of scoliosis. This is why checking posture and alignment in early life is important. The following are symptoms that adults with scoliosis can experience:
- Uneven shoulders and/or hips (pelvic tilt)
- A bump in the lower back (a bulge may occur and be visible due to inflammation, muscle rotation, or rib cage rotation)
- Numbness, weakness, or pain in the legs
- Trouble walking or standing up straight
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic fatigue
- Bone spurs (bony bumps in the joints of the spine from bone) and joint damage
- Digestive issues such as feeling full quickly
Adults with scoliosis can experience significant pain due to the curvature of the spine itself or because of compression to the spinal nerve.
Progression at skeletal maturity (approximately 25 years of age):
- Curves of less than 30 degrees do not tend to progress until later in life
- Curves of 30 to 50 degrees do tend to progress
- Curves of 50 or more degrees will tend to progress by one degree per year
Due to near-term or later life progression, it is always important to seek preventive and restorative chiropractic treatment.
Adolescent Scoliosis: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is an abnormal spine curvature that appears in youths ages 10 to 18. Idiopathic means that the condition has no identifiable causes; however, approximately 30% of AIS patients have some family history of scoliosis, which may indicate a genetic connection. Below are some symptoms to look for in your adolescent children:
- Uneven hips and/or shoulders
- Clothes that do not hang straight
- Fatigue (mostly in the lower back, especially after sitting or standing for long periods of time)
- Muscle aches in the back
Adolescents with scoliosis typically do not have pain or neurologic symptoms. Whether or not your adolescent presents with the above symptoms and is experiencing pain, it’s important to consult with a scoliosis specialist.
Juvenile Scoliosis: This type of idiopathic scoliosis, which presents as an abnormal “S” or “C” curve of the spine, affects children between the ages of four and 10. As with adolescent scoliosis, there may be a genetic connection; however, with juvenile scoliosis, there is a high risk of progression of the abnormal curve. This is why it’s important to watch for the following symptoms and get treatment as soon as possible:
- Uneven hips and/or shoulders
- Unequal distance between the arms and body when standing
- Uneven skin folds at the waist
- Ribs that are prominent or that stick out in one area
- Muscles that are prominent in the lower back or that bulge on one side
It’s important to note that children with juvenile scoliosis often do not experience pain; however, it is essential to co-manage juvenile scoliosis with a chiropractor certified to treat scoliosis and your pediatrician as soon as possible so the condition does not progress. Regular x-rays should be taken to track progression, as it can happen quickly.
Infantile Scoliosis: Infantile scoliosis affects children under four and is typically diagnosed within the first six months of life. Below are some symptoms you and/or your doctor should look for if you suspect your child has infantile scoliosis:
- Always leaning to one side
- Ribs that are more prominent on one side
- Shoulders that appear uneven
- One shoulder blade that protrudes further than the other
- Uneven legs
- Waistline and hips that appear tilted
The earlier scoliosis symptoms are detected, the earlier treatment can begin. Chiropractic treatment for scoliosis in infants helps prevent progression into adulthood.
Correcting scoliosis in adults is always harder than correcting it in children because the spine has gone beyond developmental stages into an asymmetrical bone structure that can cause other long-term health issues.
Chiropractic Adjustments for Scoliosis
A scoliosis diagnosis does not have to diminish your quality of life. Receiving chiropractic treatment for scoliosis can provide benefits to keep you active and moving. However, there are also some limitations to chiropractic adjustments.
|Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments||Limitations of Chiropractic Adjustments|
Chiropractic adjustments alone are unable to reduce the lateral curvature of the spine. However, through a combination of spinal adjustments and corrective therapy, chiropractors can improve flexibility and range of motion while alleviating much of your pain and discomfort.
In the end, the best treatment for scoliosis is the earliest detection possible and to consult with a qualified chiropractor to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your scoliosis, manages your symptoms, and prevents further damage. The best chiropractic treatment for scoliosis provides curvature correction and long-term management.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace®: A Winning Combination
A chiropractor that utilizes the Chiropractor BioPhysics® (CBP) technique focuses on correcting the spine’s curvature and preventing or slowing progression.
The team at PostureWorks specializes in chiropractic treatment for scoliosis and also offers ScoliBrace®, a custom-made 3D spinal brace, to provide the best care for individuals of all ages and at all stages of scoliosis. Our providers address scoliosis conditions by creating a non-invasive, customized, and comprehensive treatment plan that may include:
- Corrective Spinal Traction
- Neuro-Muscular Reeducation
- Postural Exercises
- ScoliBrace® (an over-corrective brace that guides the body and spine into a posture opposite of the scoliosis shape)
Our corrective chiropractic care can help restore the natural curvature of your spine, alleviating inflammation and pain in the short- and long-term.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or to learn more about chiropractic treatment for scoliosis.