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Scoliosis is defined as a lateral curvature of the spine, which means that instead of the spine being straight it has developed a curve or multiple curves. Many people have slight curves as a result of slight structural abnormalities, trauma, or spinal misalignments. These curves will straighten when that person bends forward or from side to side and are called "functional scoliosis". True or "structural scoliosis" is usually a more dramatic curvature which does not straighten with movements of the spine. This condition affects from 1-5% of children ages 10 to 14 (60-80% of which are female). Scoliosis predisposes individuals to back pain, headache, and other posture-related disorders. In rare, severe cases, the curvature can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems due to a lack of space from the deformed ribcage.

The Doctor of Chiropractic is well qualified to diagnose scoliosis because chiropractors evaluate spines and posture daily. Additionally, xrays taken in the chiropractic clinic assist in the diagnosis of scoliosis. The Chiropractic approach involves early detection and intervention, applying treatment during the mild scoliotic phase in an effort to avoid progress of the curvature. After the age of 25, bone has completely calcified and any correction becomes more difficult, though symptom management is very effective. In those cases of severe scoliosis (which are rare), your Doctor of Chiropractic will refer out for the next appropriate step in care.

Medical treatment waits for a scoliosis to progress (if it is going to) to the point of requiring bracing or surgery. The effectiveness of bracing is in question. Additionally, wearing a brace affects appearance, creating self-esteem issues and limits ability to participate in activities. Compliance of 23 hours a day tends to be low, and the effectiveness for scoliosis measuring 15-35 degrees has been shown to be minimal at best. Surgery for scoliosis is a highly invasive procedure, which is usually only utilized for very rare cases which progress rapidly and inhibit organ function.

In summary, early detection and early intervention is desired. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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