What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine develops an unnatural lateral (sideways) curvature.

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The cause of scoliosis is often a mystery.

The curve may be a C-shaped curve, or an S-shaped curve, with a more pronounced curvature in one direction than the other. Either way, it’s not normal. But what causes scoliosis? And is there anything that can be done about it – besides bracing or surgery?
Idiopathic Scoliosis
The cause of scoliosis is often unknown and is referred to as “idiopathic scoliosis.” This is a lifetime, systematic(1) condition regarded as a disease of the of neurmuscular system.

Typically seen in children and young teens , idiopathic scoliosis may have some genetic factors, since it does tend to run in families. Depending on the age of the patient when idiopathic scoliosis is first diagnosed, it will be called different things, including:

Under age 3: infantile idiopathic scoliosis
Ages 3 – 9: juvenile idiopathic scoliosis
Ages 10 – 18: adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
After skeletal maturity: adult idiopathic scoliosis
Most cases of scoliosis fall into the category of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Many more girls get scoliosis than boys, and the girls who get scoliosis tend to have cases that worsen more dramatically than their male counterparts. Since the cause of scoliosis is unknown, it is impossible to predict who will get it and which cases will progress significantly. This can be psychologically detrimental and cause both increase pain and increase physical disfigurement as it progresses.

Other Causes of Scoliosis
Congenital scoliosis is caused by improper spinal formation in the unborn fetus. The development of the vertebrae is incomplete or, in some cases, not segmented properly, causing the spine to grow unevenly.

Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs with some types of neurological disorders, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. In these instances, the children’s trunks are not strong enough to support themselves fully, and the spine curves into a long C-shape.

Degenerative or adult scoliosis occurs in adults, usually in conjunction with degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, compression fractures of the spine or degeneration of discs on one side of the spine more than the other.

What Probably Doesn’t Cause Scoliosis – But Certainly Doesn’t Help
Although the weight of the backpacks kids have to carry is a serious concern, there is no evidence to suggest it causes scoliosis. However, heavy backpacks may contribute to postural problems, back pain and shoulder injuries. Likewise, slouching, leaning to one side and general poor posture, while not directly linked to scoliosis, can lead to serious back and neck problems if not corrected.

Treating Scoliosis

The standard ‘Medical Model’ is one of ‘wait and see’. What that means is the physician, usually an orthopedic surgeon, will simply re-xray a scoliosis patient, starting from either juvenile, adolescent or adult curvatures, periodically, until such time as the curve reaches 25 degrees or greater. At that point a hard brace known as a ‘Boston Brace’ which is worn almost all the time can be prescribed. This can also have harmful physical and psychological overtones for the patient, especially younger patients, and therefore compliance is a factor.

If continued progression is observed, surgical treatment for scoliosis is the traditional medical procedure. Whether the standard Harrington Rod is surgically implanted or the newer laser surgeries are performed, both are maximally invasive and results are spotty. Research states “the initial average loss of spinal correction post-surgery is 3.2 degrees in the first year and 6.5 degrees after two years with continued loss of 1.0 degrees per year throughout life”. (2)

The average pre-operative scoliosis curvature is 72 degrees, while the post operative surgical treatment for scoliosis results in an unimpressive 44 degrees which then continues to deteriorate each year thereafter. Drs. Woggon and Lawrence concluded that 44 percent of scoliosis bracing attempts are considered failures because they do not cease the scoliosis development. (3) It is also known that upper middle class children wore the prescribed brace not more than 10% of the recommended time thereby negating any potential benefits. Scoliosis surgery also does nothing for the rib hump deformity.

Scoliosis Surgery
Scoliosis surgery is typically suggested by medical doctors when the scoliosis curvature is over 40 – 50 degrees. Before you agree to this aggressive approach, learn what’s involved:

Procedure Scoliosis surgery is a very complex surgical procedure. Expect your child to be in surgery for six or more hours, and in the hospital for just about a week. Incisions in the back (and possibly others in the front or the sides) will be made, and two steel rods will be attached to either side of the spine using steel screws or hooks. These are then covered with bone fragments that fuse with the spine. This arrangement mechanically forces the spine into a straight position.

Recovery Your child must learn breathing and coughing exercises to maintain pulmonary health while recuperating. He or she should be taught how to move about while in bed as well as how to climb into and out of bed safely. The child will be out of school for a couple of months and should not resume any physical activities like bending, twisting or playing for three months. After three months, some activities may be resumed but gym class, horseback riding, contact sports and amusement-park rides must still be avoided. After 6 months, all but contact sports may be resumed. After a year, if the doctor okays it, all activities may be resumed.

Risks Besides the inherent risks associated with any surgical procedure, scoliosis surgery can cause nerve damage, pain, arthritis, degeneration of discs, bowel problems, collapsed lung and even broken rods. In young children, scoliosis surgery can affect growth and may result in breathing problems.

Unsuccessful alternative non-medical scoliosis treatments include:

stand alone craniosacral treatments for scoliosis
various alterations to shoes, including insertion of shoe lifts
soft braces worn 23 hours per day, which have no proven track record for adult scoliosis correction and difficult compliance with juvenile scoliosis
Natural alternative scoliosis treatment is available (Pleaase contact our office)
Fortunately, another alternative is available. Chiropractic has had excellent results with many types of scoliosis. And there’s no uncomfortable contraption to wear and no invasive procedures to undergo!

A Natural Approach Instead
If you’ve never thought of chiropractic for scoliosis, you may be surprised to learn that chiropractic is the world’s most popular and respected non-traditional health care approach. Chiropractic is safe, working with the body’s natural healing abilities to bring about proper structure and function. Call Dynamic Spine Center today to schedule a consultation – there’s an excellent chance it’s covered by your insurance!

Before doing anything else, your chiropractor will ask you and your child some questions to get better acquainted with what’s happening with the scoliosis. If chiropractic can help, the doctor will let you know and will then proceed to examining your child, explaining all of the findings to you and answering any questions that arise. Then the chiropractor will lay out a plan of action designed specifically to address your child’s misalignments. Precise chiropractic adjustments to these areas will be made, helping to restore proper alignment, which allows the pertinent muscle groups to strengthen and the posture to improve.

Take Action
No one can guarantee a particular outcome, but millions of delighted patients worldwide can attest to the fact that chiropractic is safe, gentle and effective. Don’t let your child suffer the embarrassment and potential health risks of scoliosis for another day – call Dynamic Spine Center and try a safe approach to healing scoliosis.

In this natural scoliosis treatment we utilize the latest non-invasive chiropractic procedures consisting of:

specific spinal adjustments
rehabilitative procedures
specific isometric exercises
proprioceptive neuromuscular re-education
cervical and lumbar lordosis restoration (a vital correction for success in removing the progressive scoliosis)
muscle and ligament rehabilitation
vibration therapy
Vibration Therapy, is a non-medical scoliosis treatment, via the use of a ‘Vibrating Scoliosis Traction Chair and Vibrating Platform’ are used to override the body’s proprioceptive defenses.

Because the scoliotic spine compresses and rotates three-dimensionally, it must be tractioned and de-rotated in order for it to correct.

Remarkable results were found utilizing these procedures in a retrospective study done by Morningstar, Woggon, and Lawrence. (3) 19 patients with scoliosis ranging from 15 to 52 degree Cobb angles (the angle which measures the degree of curvature of the spine) were monitored. Following the course of treatment, patients exhibited an average reduction of 62% or 17 degree Cobb Angle. Eight out of 19 patients were no longer classified as scoliotic. The therapy takes a fraction of the 23 hours per day a patient typically wears the brace.

So, if you ask– “are there any treatments of scoliosis that are non-medical, non-invasive, avoid long term bracing whether soft bracing or hard bracing?” the answer is: yes there are new breakthroughs in chiropractic and alternative scoliosis treatment of and for scoliosis…

[1] Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: natural history and long term treatment effects; Asher, Burton; Scoliosis 2006, 1:2
[2] Misonceptions about scoliosis:D. Garnecki; Scoliosis mentoring program
[3] BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders; Sept. 14, 2004.

Cobb Angle: Males vs. Females

For curves less than 10° the female/male ratio is essentially equal (4). In larger curves the ratio increases to 8:1 but reverses again to 1:1 in curves greater than 30°(5).
[4] EJ, Drummond DS, Gurr J. Scoliosis: incidence and natural history. A prospective epidemiological study. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1978; 60(2):173-176.
[5] Bunnell WP. The natural history of idiopathic scoliosis. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1988;(229):20-25.