Did you know that the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) notes that 30,000 children are fitted with corrective braces and 38,000 patients undergo spinal fusion surgery to treat scoliosis every year? Unfortunately, scoliosis affects around 2-3% of the American population and can lead to pain and physical complications if not properly treated. The month of June is Scoliosis Awareness Month where scoliosis patients, families, physicians, and chiropractors work to raise awareness about scoliosis and stress the importance of early testing and non-operative care.
In most cases, scoliosis occurs during the final growth spurt before starting puberty and is characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine. Although this curve is usually mild, some cases will continue to progress throughout adolescence. Severe scoliosis can be disabling and can also impede natural organ function or breathing. For these reasons, it is important to have your child tested for scoliosis and then monitored or treated regularly to prevent the curve from progressing.
For extremely mild cases of scoliosis that do not progress, no treatment may be necessary. For more moderate cases of scoliosis, a back brace may be used to prevent the curve from progressing. Unfortunately, severe cases of scoliosis usually require surgery to correct the curvature and/or to prevent it from becoming worse. Some cases of scoliosis have also responded well to chiropractic treatment.
In a 24-month retrospective analysis of chiropractic rehabilitation, two spine clinics in Michigan monitored 28 scoliosis patients participating in the same 6 month chiropractic rehabilitation program. At the end of the study, 22 of the 28 patients had decreased the severity of their spinal curvature. Although the remaining 6 out of 28 showed no improvement in the severity of spinal curvature, they reported improved pain scores and disability ratings. These results were recorded at 6 months post treatment and again at 24 months post treatment.
However before deciding upon chiropractic treatment for scoliosis, it is important to understand that scoliosis is a condition that requires ongoing care and cannot be cured. Therefore, the goal of chiropractic care is not to fix the problem, but rather to manage the condition and prevent it from progressing. There is no quick fix solution to scoliosis.
When it comes to treating scoliosis with chiropractic care, a specialized approach is used since traditional chiropractic care can possibly put more pressure on the joints. Instead chiropractic care for scoliosis generally revolves around specialized massages, stretches, and exercises. In some cases, scoliosis-specific adjustments may also be implemented. Ultimately, however, your chiropractor will need to evaluate the specific case before designing a custom treatment plan.
Before starting chiropractic care, your chiropractor will also need to determine if you are a good candidate for scoliosis-specific chiropractic care. While each case is different, most chiropractors will evaluate the following:
- How rigid the spine is
- How well your body and brain communicate
- How committed the patient is to following a treatment plan
This allows your chiropractor to get an idea of what is going on inside your spine and the surrounding structures so that they can use chiropractic treatments to address specific issues.
Overall, chiropractic care can be an effective way to help manage scoliosis, however it must be executed properly by a chiropractor familiar with treating scoliosis patients. Even though it won’t cure the condition, it can provide pain relief and increased functioning, and can also prevent the condition from worsening. To celebrate National Scoliosis Month, take a visit to your local chiropractors office to see how they can help!
Dr. Clouthier has obtained numerous certifications in various healing techniques such as Nutrition Response Testing, Acupuncture, NueroEmotional Technique, CranioSacral Therapy, and NeuroModulation Technique. He has also taken over 1000 hours in post-graduate training in nutritional and herbal therapies and functional medicine and is currently pursuing an advanced certification from the Institute for Functional Medicine.