Scoliosis, a condition traditionally defined as a sideways curvature (or curvatures) of the spine , affects between 6 and 9 million people in the United States . Typically it occurs during growth spurts and pre- and post-pubescent girls between the ages of 10 and 15 are most commonly diagnosed and treated. While scoliosis can result from health issues like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and spina bifida , the cause in approximately 80 percent of all cases is unknown. This form of scoliosis is called idiopathic scoliosis (meaning without a known cause).
This condition can cause unevenness in the shoulders and hips, a twisted spine and serious cases can be painful and debilitating. So what are the best treatment options? Can chiropractic play a role? Here’s the latest information on diagnosing and treating scoliosis.
Because scoliosis can be hereditary, it’s crucial to have family members evaluated by a healthcare professional if someone is diagnosed or the condition runs in the family, especially young children. “Seeing what developmental patterns are happening in children is a critical part of successful treatment of scoliosis,” explains long-time chiropractor, Dr. Sylvia Kim, D.C. “In order to correct postural scoliosis, it has to be caught before any damage is done to the joints.”
Usually there are three treatment options for scoliosis—observation, bracing or surgery. The course of action depends on the severity of the condition. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine states that bracing is a very effective treatment option for decreasing the progression of high-risk curves in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Researchers reported that 72 percent of patients had treatment success with bracing—in fact, they stopped their trial early due to the ethical considerations of those child participants who weren’t being braced.
Dr. Sylvia agrees with the study. “Bracing has proven to be a great treatment option,” says Dr. Sylvia. “But parents should also consider prevention, management and treatment through chiropractic care.” She explains that regular chiropractic adjustments can improve joint motion, which is often a major problem with scoliosis. “Not to mention the added benefits adjustments provide, such as a boost to the nervous system,” she says.
According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, chiropractic scoliosis treatments can include spinal adjustments or manipulation, postural counseling, therapeutic exercise and heel lifts. Electrical stimulation is sometimes recommended as well.
Consider All the Options
Although scoliosis is a condition no parent wants their child to endure, many cases are mild and end up causing few physical problems. We encourage you to research all the scoliosis care options available and discuss individualized prevention or treatment plans with your chiropractor.