“Can scoliosis be fixed?” is a common question asked by many living with the condition.
Whether in adolescents or adults, scoliosis is a condition that affects about 3% of the US population. Scoliosis can negatively impact the quality of life for those with the condition by causing them pain, and discomfort, leading to the development of other health conditions. If caught early and addressed, future complications from scoliosis can be prevented.
Before answering the question of whether or not scoliosis can be fixed, it’s important to understand what scoliosis is and how it affects the spine.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a progressive structural spinal condition that causes abnormal lateral curvature and misalignment of the spine. Scoliosis is typically identified as any lateral curve that is greater than 10 degrees with rotation or twisting of the spine.
These curves can appear in any part of the spine. While we often think of scoliosis as a childhood condition, it affects adults as well. In fact, scoliosis in adults is far more common than in juveniles.
Scoliosis is actually a large category of conditions with subclasses. The most common types of scoliosis are:
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: When most people hear the term scoliosis, this is the type that likely comes to mind. This type of scoliosis is a developmental condition that typically begins in juveniles ages 7 to 9. This occurs as the spine is growing and developing into maturity.
- Adult degenerative scoliosis: The most common type of scoliosis, adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS) occurs in roughly 30% of the population over the age of 60. ADS typically worsens over time due to trauma, anatomical short legs, or poor posture.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: This type of scoliosis occurs when something is wrong with a person’s neurology and how the spine fails to communicate properly with the surrounding muscles or the rest of the body. It is typically associated with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
In idiopathic cases, it is usually unknown what causes scoliosis to develop. However, with ADS, scoliosis typically develops as a result of the degeneration of spinal discs and the weakening of the surrounding muscles. This leads to a worsening of the condition over time as the bones and cartilage deteriorate and the muscles and ligaments adjust to the changing curve.
This will often cause individuals with scoliosis to deal with back pain and discomfort. However, the condition can lead to other symptoms and ailments.
Common scoliosis complications include:
- Uneven shoulders
- Uneven hips
- Back pain and stiffness
- Pain in legs, hips, and feet
Some of these symptoms can be mutually reinforcing factors in worsening scoliosis itself. For example, if a patient has uneven hips, their weight distribution will also be uneven which will cause more pressure to be exerted onto the spine. This can cause more rapid development of irregular spinal curvature.
With the potential for scoliosis to worsen, it’s important to catch and treat the condition as early as possible.
How Is Scoliosis Diagnosed?
The Adam’s Forward Bend Test is used to diagnose scoliosis. During the test, the patient leans forward and bends 90 degrees at the waist. This allows the physician to see any asymmetries in the trunk or abnormal spine curvatures. Because this is a simple screening, it does not determine the severity of the curvature; a more in-depth diagnosis of scoliosis can be completed through a combination of physical examinations, x-rays, spinal radiographs, and CT scans or MRIs.
Once a determination is made, the curve is then measured by the Cobb Method to diagnose the severity of the curve. While scoliosis is defined as any curvature greater than 10 degrees, it’s possible to have much more severe curves. Curves greater than 25 degrees are considered significant while those exceeding 45 degrees are considered severe.
|If you’re concerned that you may have scoliosis, free online screenings like the one from ScoliCare can be a great first step toward diagnosis and treatment.|
Now that you know the importance of early detection and treatment, let’s discuss if scoliosis can be fixed.
Can Scoliosis Be Fixed?
We know that scoliosis can affect millions of people and be detrimental to their quality of life. As such, it makes sense that individuals would want to know whether or not the condition can be fixed. However, it’s a tricky question to answer.
While scoliosis cannot be cured in the traditional sense, it can be managed and potentially reduced with effective treatment. Because symptoms and severity can differ widely from person to person, the type of treatment for scoliosis is going to depend largely on the type of scoliosis that the patient is dealing with, as well as the unique factors of their condition and how early it is detected.
Oftentimes, those living with scoliosis are advised to wait and watch. However, this approach to scoliosis treatment can often result in a worsening of the condition in adolescents and adults, as the conditions are developmental and degenerative, respectively. A more proactive approach, as early as possible, can lead to the best corrective results.
For example, bracing in younger patients with an over corrective brace, such as the Scolibrace, can prevent the spine from improperly developing while also preventing the muscles in the back from adjusting to the irregular curvature of the spine.
Physical therapy (also known as physiotherapy) is another way to treat and correct scoliosis. Some of the most common physiotherapy methods are:
- SEAS (Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis): SEAS involves a series of exercises that result in conservative treatment for those dealing with scoliosis. The overall goal is to improve the stability of the spine through these exercises to induce self-correcting posture. However, one of the weaknesses of SEAS is that it is a simple program that may struggle to correct anything other than minor curvatures on its own.
- Schroth Method: The Schroth Method, typically performed by physical therapists, is another exercise-based treatment plan for scoliosis. It relies on template curvature types to design a treatment plan to help return the curve of the spine to a more natural position by de-rotating and stabilizing the spine. However, because scoliosis is unique to each patient, templated treatment plans may not be as effective.
Although adult scoliosis cannot be cured, posture can be improved or corrected with the right treatment plan. More importantly, even if correction is not possible, treatment can slow or stop the progression of scoliosis.
Either way, effective scoliosis treatment can relieve the pain and discomfort associated with scoliosis as well as improve posture and prevent the condition from worsening.
Coupled with bracing, treatments like SEAS and the Schroth Method can be helpful to those dealing with scoliosis. However, effective treatments have been developed to bring more long-term relief and correction to patients.
Effective Scoliosis Treatment with Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace®
Because scoliosis is unique from person to person, the most effective treatments for relief and correction require customization. The team at PostureWorks understands this and that is why we utilize Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace® to provide an asymmetrical approach to an asymmetrical condition.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® has become the gold standard for scoliosis treatment by incorporating exercise plans and neuromuscular education and traction that are uniquely tailored for each patient. When paired with ScoliBrace®, which bends the curves of the spine in opposite directions instead of just squeezing them together, you will see improvements in your spinal curvature.
With Chiropractic BioPhysics® and ScoliBrace®, scoliosis progression will be halted and you could see your spine return to a more natural curvature.
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.