What is scoliosis
Following on from Mark’s brilliant newsletter about leg length inequality, which if you haven’t read I fully recommend you check that out the blog, https://www.care-for-health.co.uk/2022/05/04/have-you-been-going-round-in-circles/. This newsletter ties directly as a structural leg is one of the most common causes of scoliosis.
June is the official month of Scoliosis Awareness. The aim is to encourage others to be checked for scoliosis, as well as educating and raising awareness in the community. Early detection of an abnormal curvature in the spine is key to preventing the advancement of scoliosis.
In a spine unaffected by scoliosis the vertebrae are stacked on top of one another, with a disc between each one, with muscles and ligaments connecting it all together, providing stability and movement. The disc’s are what provide the cushioning effect and flexibility as we move. A healthy spine has natural inward curvature in the neck and lower back (called a lordosis) and an outward curve in the upper back (called a kyphosis). Thus appearing straight from a front or back view.
Scoliosis is when there are abnormal side to side curves of the spine to develop which affect
s the structure and posture, not only of the spine but the rest of the body as well. These could be; alterations to the position of the ribs, shoulders or hips appearing higher than the other, a leaning to one side. Over time, this may lead to knock on pains throughout other parts of the body.
Scoliosis is a progressive condition which means it can get worse over time if left untreated, causing serious implications for the body. Symptoms can range from unnoticeable to severe, however even the most mild scoliosis can be painful and have an effect on daily life. The misalignment compresses the discs of the spine unevenly, it also strains your joints and can irritate your nerves.
You might be asking yourself, so what causes a scoliosis. There are lots of potential causes for why an abnormal curvature may develop, these include being born with an unformed/misshapen vertebrae, unequal leg lengths or fused ribs. Other conditions which can lead to scoliosis developing are neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. In adults a scoliosis can develop due to degenerative changes in the spine itself, such as osteoporosis, however in most cases the cause is unknown.
What can I do if I have a scoliosis?
There are a few common approaches for treatment; observation, braces or surgery. Physical exercises and adjustments can also help which is where chiropractic comes in (more on that later). The most important thing where scoliosis is concerned, is to accurately measure the degree/severity to which the curvature occurs. This is important to understand the direction, prognosis, best treatment options and also to monitor progression. We do this by measuring the angle of the curvature in a clever way, and recommend the best treatment based on the results.
A scoliosis is defined when there is a degree of 10 degrees or more, so 10-30 degrees, exercises and regular checkups, especially for young patients, along with chiropractic care. If a spine has a moderate curve of 30-60 degrees, sometimes a specific rehabilitation program is recommended, again a chiropractor can help with this, but sometimes a back brace is recommended especially if a scoliosis is detected early on in life.
60 degrees or more, surgery may well be advised. Surgery comes in a couple of different formats but overall their aim is to straighten the spine. It’s important to mention surgery is not the best solution for every case. Physical therapy aims to strengthen and stabilize the spine, manage the symptoms and reducing the impact on daily life.
Can I see a chiropractor for scoliosis treatment?
Chiropractic is a non-invasive, drug free way to treat scoliosis and because chiropractic looks at how the entire body functions it will address multiple symptoms. While we as chiropractors cannot straighten the spine completely, studies have shown improvement in curvature and pain! Through a tailored combination of adjustments and stretches you can improve your flexibility and range of motion thus decreasing pain and increasing your quality of movement. Once you are moving better it becomes easier and easier to strengthen everything that supports the spine, leading to an improvement in your bodies health and function.
So if you or someone you know has scoliosis, have a chat with us about how chiropractic care can help.