Scoliosis is a fairly common medical condition in which the spine is unnaturally curved from side to side. A healthy spine should appear as a straight line on an X-ray, but a spine with scoliosis will look more like the letter “S” or the letter “C” due to the lateral curvature. A patient may be born with scoliosis or it may develop later in life due to genetics or a secondary neuromuscular disease.Scoliosis can cause a number of different health problems, as the spine can impede upon the lungs and heart as curvature progresses. People with scoliosis may also notice that one hip or shoulder appears to be significantly “higher” than the other, causing difficulty in gait or arm motion.
Scoliosis can be diagnosed through X-rays or a physical examination. Once identified, the doctor will determine if the condition is genetic or the result of another underlying medical condition such as Cerebral Palsy. Upon figuring out the cause of the patient’s specific condition, the doctor will then prescribe a treatment plan based upon the degree to which the spine is curved and how much the condition is interfering with the patient’s life.
Patients suffering from scoliosis are generally under the care of several different doctors, including specialists and chiropractors. Patients with scoliosis can also expect to have X-rays performed routinely, allowing their medical team to monitor the progression of the spinal curvature.
Treatment for scoliosis can include physical therapy, manual spinal adjustment, occupational therapy, back braces or, in severe cases, surgery. Physical therapy—used in scoliosis cases since the 1920s—can help alleviate any pain associated with the condition, strengthening the muscles of the spine to support the back and prevent curvature from progressing. Manual spinal adjustment, which involves manipulating the alignment of the spine by a chiropractor, can help to relieve some of the pressure pain related to scoliosis by temporarily correcting the alignment of the vertebrae. Occupational therapy is often employed to help patients with scoliosis learn how to live with their condition.