June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month. During this month, we would like to raise awareness about this condition and how as chiropractors we can help those who struggle with this condition.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a common spinal condition in which the vertebrae rotate causing the spine to curve abnormally. The degree of curvature varies based on the patient and can range from very minor misalignment to almost an S-shaped or C-shaped curve. For patients with minor conditions, symptoms may not be severe or need treatment. However, scoliosis can progress without observation and treatment and can become a debilitating condition significantly impacting ones’ day-to-day life. The increasing curvature can begin to impact muscle function, movement, and restrict breathing.
Many cases occur during growth spurts in puberty, but other causes can include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or be the result of a congenital condition present at birth. Though commonly associated with teenagers or children, adults can develop this condition later in life as they age.
Signs & Symptoms
The physical signs of scoliosis can include the following:
- Chronic back pain or muscle spasms
- Difficult breathing
- One hip higher than the other
- One shoulder blade may appear more forward than the other
- Uneven shoulders
In severe cases, due to the curvature of the spine, the rib cage may appear prominent on one side more than the other.
Diagnosis begins with a full review of medical history, followed by a thorough physical examination. A neurological exam may also be conducted to check for muscle weakness or abnormal reflexes. Imaging tests such as X-rays are the most accurate way to fully diagnose a patient with scoliosis. A positive diagnosis is confirmed with a curve greater than 10 degrees. A significant curve is considered between 25 to 30 degrees, and a curve exceeding 45 to 50 degrees is seen as severe.
For those with minor scoliosis symptoms, treatment may consist of monitoring the condition with X-rays to check that the curve isn’t worsening, physical therapy, and bracing to help straighten the spine and support proper curvature.
For patients with mild to moderate scoliosis, chiropractic care can be an ideal treatment option to help relieve symptoms and assist in correcting posture.
How We Can Help
It is important to note that chiropractic care cannot cure scoliosis, but when combined with your doctor’s treatment plan can help to adjust your overall spinal alignment and posture to decrease painful symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
Scoliosis is an unnatural curvature of the spine, which can place strain on the muscles, nerves, and soft tissues around the spine. Chiropractic care can be used to help realign the spine and decrease strain and pressure on those soft tissues to reduce pain and inflammation in the area. By increasing joint mobility and improving nervous system function, your body has a better ability to manage and relieve symptoms caused by scoliosis.
Chiropractic care for scoliosis is a long-term treatment option as patients will need routine adjustments to gain the most from treatment. Your chiropractor will work with your other healthcare team members to ensure you are receiving the best care and that the prescribed treatment plan is working.
At first, treatment may be several times a week in the office for spinal adjustments. At-home exercises, stretches, bracing techniques, and physical therapy may also be recommended to you. Many patients report feeling significantly better after the first week of treatment, over time additional benefits include reduced pain and inflammation, improved range of motion and flexibility, and the ability to resume normal activities that were hindered by scoliosis symptoms leading to an overall better quality of life.
If you are struggling with the symptoms of scoliosis, chiropractic care may be the right treatment option for you. Our experienced chiropractic team can help reduce pain and discomfort along your spine. For more information on how we can help with scoliosis or to schedule a consultation, contact The Center for Spine, Sport, & Physical Medicine today.