Scoliosis is often thought of as a condition that mostly affects adolescents. While it is true that around 2-3% of children deal with what is called adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, it isn’t actually the most common form of scoliosis.
In fact, scoliosis is a broad term used to describe many subclasses of the ailment—the most common of which is called adult degenerative scoliosis. Adult degenerative scoliosis affects roughly 30% of the population over age 60, which makes it an extremely common reality for seniors. Most cases of adult degenerativescoliosis are preventable, if caught early and addressed.
While scoliosis complications can be painful and uncomfortable on their own, they can also lead to a variety of health problems that can reinforce one another and negatively impact one’s quality of life. This article will help you better understand the condition as well as provide information on effective treatments.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is when an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine develops and causes a spinal misalignment. While curves in the spine are natural, scoliosis involves a curvature to the side and is visible from the back or front. Any curvature greater than 10 degrees is typically identified as scoliosis.
Because scoliosis is a blanket term for many subclasses of the condition, it’s important to know some of the more common types such as:
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
- Adult degenerative scoliosis
- Neuromuscular scoliosis
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a developmental condition that typically starts in juveniles between the ages of 7-9 years old. This condition occurs as the spine grows and develops into maturity. While the exact cause of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is unknown, it’s theorized that conditions such as uneven hips or irregular leg length may contribute.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis
Adult degenerative scoliosis involves the development of kinks in the spine that exacerbate over time. Imagine that your spine functions similarly to a spring. If you constantly bend a spring while holding it down with weight, its shape will eventually start to give way and warp.
While adult degenerative scoliosis can often stem from unidentified or untreated adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, it can also develop over time due to trauma, anatomical short legs, or poor posture.
Neuromuscular scoliosis exists when there is an issue with how the brain communicates with the spine and surrounding muscles. Neuromuscular scoliosis is associated with disorders of the nerve or muscular systems such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
Scoliosis can cause more than back pain and discomfort. The condition can lead to severe ailments. For example, because scoliosis can interfere with the operation of the nervous system, it can disrupt nerve control of the legs.
Some other complications of scoliosis include:
- Uneven shoulders
- Uneven hips
- One shoulder blade appearing visibly larger than the other
- Ribs protruding further from one side of the body than the other
- Back pain or stiffness
- Pain or numbness in legs
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty sitting or standing for extended periods
Because the spine and its surrounding muscles and tissue are the core of your body, scoliosis can also adversely affect other parts of the body.
|Legs||Many of the muscles in your legs are anchored to your back; it’s common for back pain to travel to your legs. Due to the way scoliosis impacts the nervous system, tingling sensations, and numbness in the legs are also possible. Chronic muscle cramps and spasms are also very common in patients with scoliosis. Leg weakness can occur as well.|
|Shoulders and Arms||The irregular curvature of the spine from scoliosis can cause shoulders to sit unevenly. This abnormal shoulder position can cause one or both of the shoulders to float in what is known as frozen shoulder syndrome, causing intense pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint that worsens over time if left untreated. The shoulder blades can also flip forward or backward over time called scapular winging.|
|Chest||Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing is a common scoliosis condition because the way your spine’s shape also affects the position of the ribcage and how it moves.|
|Nervous System||The spine holds a crucial part of your nervous system—the spinal cord. Irregularities in the spine alter your body’s ability to perform motor functions and organ functions. Pinches and kinks in the spine can slow the speed at which nerve signals are sent from the brain to the rest of the body, impacting movement, coordination, and reaction times. These changes to neurological function inhibit the brain’s ability to control and coordinate major organ functions. Menstrual problems, digestive issues, increased heart rate, and anxiety are all major scoliosis complications. In severe cases, scoliosis can cause organ dysfunction and lower your lifespan.|
While scoliosis complications can be harmful to one’s quality of life, some treatments are known to not only alleviate the pain, numbness, and neurological dysfunction associated with the condition but also help reshape the spine to prevent them from returning.
The curves in the spine from scoliosis will never go away on their own. In fact, they can worsen over time if left untreated.
Treatments for Curvature Reduction:
- Scolibrace: True 3D overcorrective bracing—especially in younger patients—as they aim to slow down the rate of scoliosis advancement and also correct curvature while the patient’s spine develops. These are also shown to be effective for adult and elderly patients as well.
- Chiropractic Biophysics: A post doctorate speciality in chiropractic is multimodal approach to spinal curvature, entailing corrective exercises, neuromuscular reeducation, and spinal traction to slow progress and reduce curvature.
- Physical Therapy: Especial Schroth method and SEAS exercise protocol are researched methods of scoliosis management.
Pain Relief Non-Corrective:
- Massages can be good for short-term alleviation of pain in the short and constricted muscles on the concave side of the curve.
- Yoga can also help improve muscle strength and stability depending on how well the exercises are matched to the person
- Chiropractic adjustments are good for pain relief and reduced muscle spasm as well as joint mobility.
Because the shape of the spine develops so uniquely from person to person, the most effective treatments are those that are created specifically for the patient’s spine. If you are diagnosed with scoliosis and want treatment, you should look for a treatment plan that is crafted for you.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace® Bring Effective Scoliosis Treatment
Chiropractic BioPhysics® is a powerful technique that focuses on identifying your unique spinal curvature to isolate the best possible treatments for scoliosis complications. The team at PostureWorks utilizes Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace® to provide non-invasive, asymmetrical treatment plans that are tailored to your spine’s curvature.
Our treatment plans work to strengthen the weakened muscles on the convex side of the curve to ensure parity and stability in the spine. While normal braces can slow down the rate of scoliosis progression, ScoliBrace® has been shown to improve scoliosis because it bends the curve of the spend into opposite positions instead of just squeezing towards the midline.
With Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace®, our chiropractic care can work to restore your spine’s natural curvature for long-term scoliosis improvement so that you can get back to living your life.
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.