What is Scoliosis & What are the Causes?
A curvature of the spine characterizes scoliosis. When viewing scoliosis patients from behind, the spine appears curved, rather than straight. This is especially true in more severe cases of scoliosis with a curvature over 25 degrees. Diagnosis typically occurs during the teen years and is more common in girls.
The three most common treatment options are observation, bracing, and surgery. Observation is just what it sounds like and represents the most common treatment in mild cases. These cases generally do not progress and cause few physical problems. Children with curvature between 25 and 45 degrees, whose skeleton is still growing, may receive a brace. Doctors rarely prescribe surgery, except for patients with curvature greater than 45 degrees, or those whose condition affects organs such as the heart and lungs.
Why Choose Chiropractic Care?
For patients whose doctors prescribe observation, chiropractic care offers a natural, holistic approach to treat scoliosis proactively. Treatment varies by patient, but typically includes chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitative exercises to help the body heal itself. Adjustments attempt to realign the spine, improve range of motion, and lessen pressure on the nervous system. The prescribed exercises focus on the muscles surrounding the spine, with a goal of building strength.
Chiropractic Treatments Beyond Adjustments
Chiropractors treat the whole patient, typically conducting detailed histories of medical care and personal habits in order to prescribe the ideal treatment plan. In addition to spinal adjustments, this may include physical therapy, physiotherapy, and changes to lifestyle and diet.
When treating scoliosis, chiropractors often prescribe a variety of exercises that target the full body. The aim of therapeutic exercise includes building strength, stability, and range of motion, which prevents injury, pain, and muscle deterioration. Your chiropractor supervises you until you feel comfortable performing these exercises on your own. He or she may also include therapeutic stretching in your physical therapy regimen to prevent scar tissue.
Physiotherapy includes treatments such as muscle stimulation, ice or heat therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. These treatments help reduce pain and improve circulation.
Part of your chiropractic consultation includes questions about your lifestyle, including diet, exercise, stress levels, and use of alcohol or drugs. Certain lifestyle choices affect overall health and may interfere with chiropractic treatment. Your chiropractor may work with you to design a healthy eating diet and nutrition program that supports treatment.
Research Supports Chiropractic Treatment
A two-year study of 28 adult patients with scoliosis examined the efficacy of chiropractic treatment to reduce pain and disability. In addition to chiropractic treatments, patients performed exercise and weight-bearing activities under supervision for six months. After six months, patients completed exercises at home.
In the first six months of treatment, patients’ disabilities reduced by half, along with a 40 percent reduction in pain. Angle reductions occurred in 22 of the study’s 28 patients. These results support the theory that chiropractic care eases scoliosis pain and disability in adults.
Chiropractic treatment offers relief for the millions of adult scoliosis patients in America, especially those with curvature less than 20 degrees who fall under the observation umbrella of medical treatment. A combination of spinal manipulation, physical therapy, physiotherapy, and lifestyle changes reduces pain and improves mobility, contributing to greater quality of life.