Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. As always, I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy! In my last blog, we discussed the benefits of prenatal chiropractic care. Pregnancy puts the body through drastic changes and puts strain on many parts of the body, but chiropractic care can offer relief during and after pregnancy. Today, we’ll be discussing scoliosis and how chiropractic care can help. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. It is often diagnosed in early adolescence, but is seen in adults as well. Chiropractic care can relieve pain caused by scoliosis and can prevent it from worsening if caught early enough. If you’re interested in learning more about this condition and how chiropractic can offer relief, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started!
A healthy spine has natural curves that form an “S” shape when viewed from the side. This includes the cervical curve, thoracic curve, lumbar curve, and the sacral curve. These curves help to give the spine more flexibility, and the way they are distributed helps us keep our balance. The vertebrae are stacked neatly on top of each other with a disc of cartilage in between them. This disc provides cushioning as you move. However, if the curvature of the spine is greater than 10 degrees, it is considered scoliosis. The curvature is measured using the Cobb Angle, a standard measurement used to determine and track the progression of scoliosis. This causes vertebrae to be tilted, compressing the discs on one side. The greater the curve, the greater the chance of scoliosis progressing and getting worse over time.
Scoliosis affects 2-3% of the population in the United States– That’s an estimated 6 to 9 million people. This condition can develop in infancy or early childhood, with the primary onset at around 10 to 15 years old. Most cases occur during the growth spurt prior to puberty. This is why many children get checked periodically for scoliosis by their primary care physicians or by a school nurse. This examination is often done by having the child bend forward at the waist so that the nurse or physician can check the outline of the spine for abnormal curvature. Adults can also be diagnosed with scoliosis if they were not treated as adolescents, or if they have degenerative scoliosis, which is caused by aging. Some symptoms of scoliosis include:
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and sometimes scoliosis even goes unnoticed. Sometimes, scoliosis is not diagnosed until there is a significant curvature of the spine or the patient is in pain. However, even with mild cases, it can make everyday life painful and range of motion may be limited. Routine checkups by a primary care physician or chiropractor are a great form of preventative care.
There are generally two categories of scoliosis: structural and nonstructural. With structural scoliosis, the curve of the spine is rigid and is more complex to treat. Nonstructural, or functional, scoliosis is when the spine works normally, but appears curved. When the root cause of nonstructural scoliosis is treated, the scoliosis often goes away. Nonstructural scoliosis can be caused by chronic bad posture or irregularities such as one leg being longer than the other. There are also subtypes of scoliosis, including idiopathic, neuromuscular, and congenital scoliosis.
As the curvature worsens, it can cause other health problems, such as difficulty breathing and reduced lung capacity because of a reduced amount of space in the chest for the lungs to expand. In severe cases, it could cause spinal or nerve damage and spinal fluid leakage. The most common treatments for scoliosis include the use of back braces and spinal fusion surgery in extreme cases. Surgery should be a last resort, as it can permanently reduce your range of motion and put additional stress on the spine. Unfortunately, a common approach to scoliosis is to wait and see how bad it gets. This causes unnecessary pain, discomfort, and suffering.
Scoliosis can be treated and managed, much like other chronic health conditions. There is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment for scoliosis: Chiropractic care! Chiropractic is proven to help reduce back pain caused by scoliosis, and in some cases can even improve the curvature of the spine when diagnosed early enough. Chiropractors have extensive knowledge of musculoskeletal issues, conditions, and disorders. Additionally, the aim of chiropractic care is to help the body heal itself naturally by restoring proper alignment to the spine and joints. Chiropractic care may not straighten the spine completely, but studies have shown that it can make a significant improvement in curvature and pain. A 2011 study showed that 28 adult scoliosis patients who received chiropractic care for 24 months reported improvements in pain, Cobb angle, and disability.
Chiropractic treatment for scoliosis can include spinal adjustments, which correct misalignments. The spine carries messages and signals from the brain to the body, so any interference or subluxation can block these signals and prevent your body from functioning at its best. (I discussed subluxations in a previous blog!) Correcting misalignments in the spine can reduce inflammation and improve the function of the spine, thus improving the function of the overall nervous system. A chiropractor may also use a technique called flexion distraction, which is often performed on a segmented table. The table moves your body up and down slowly to gently stretch the spine. This helps maintain the mobility of the natural curve of the spine while alleviating pain.
Chiropractic care can be even more effective when combined with other treatments like muscle-strengthening exercise and stretches, including postural and rehabilitative exercises. A chiropractor can teach patients what proper posture looks and feels like, so they can practice adopting that posture at home. Simply being aware of your posture when standing or sitting can help correct a spinal issue and prevent further damage from occurring. Sometimes, a chiropractor may recommend routine chiropractic care along with other treatments prescribed by doctors, such as the use of a brace.
Additionally, massage therapy is effective in reducing pain associated with scoliosis. Some of the best types of massage for scoliosis pain include deep tissue massage and Swedish massage. Both of these techniques reduce back pain and increase blood flow to the back, elongating tightened muscles. Not only can massage help reduce pain, but it also helps improve mobility. Therefore, a chiropractor might prescribe a treatment consisting of both adjustments and massage therapy to help alleviate pain and other symptoms caused by scoliosis.
If you have not already been diagnosed with scoliosis, a chiropractor can do a postural exam and take diagnostic images such as X-rays to diagnose and determine the severity of scoliosis. This is also a good reason why children should see a chiropractor– Routine care and maintenance can help detect signs of scoliosis early on, before it starts to become an issue. Early detection of scoliosis can prevent curve progression.
As you can see, chiropractic care is an effective and safe way to help treat and manage scoliosis. Although chiropractic care alone may not straighten the spine completely, it can help alleviate pain and reduce some of the abnormal curvature. A chiropractor can develop a non-invasive, drug-free treatment plan that addresses multiple symptoms. This is a far better solution than sitting back and waiting to see if scoliosis gets worse. I hope you found this article informative. If you think you or a loved one may benefit from any kind of chiropractic care, consider reaching out to Lowcountry Chiropractic. Send us an email or give us a call and we’ll assess the situation and develop a long-term treatment plan to address your needs. We want to help you live a pain-free life– It’s what you deserve. As always, this is Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
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