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