Scoliosis is a spinal disorder that is characterized by a sideways curve in the spine. When the spine is viewed from the side, it naturally curves out at the neck, in at the mid-back, and out again at the lower back. These curves are essential for weight-bearing and flexibility, and are called kyphosis and lordosis. Kyphosis refers to the inward curves of the spine and lordosis refers to the outward curves of the spine. A normal spine has two kyphotic spinal curves located in the thoracic spine and sacrum, and two lordotic spinal curves located in the cervical and lumbar spine. However these curves are also subject to abnormalities. Abnormal kyphosis causes an extreme outward curve, or hunchback, and abnormal lordosis causes an extreme inward curve.
Scoliosis occurs when there is a sideways curve of greater than 10 degrees that causes the spine to take on a “C” or “S” shaped appearance when viewed from behind. Because the spine is curved to the side, scoliosis may also cause an individual to lean-to one side or have uneven hips or shoulders. There are several different kinds of scoliosis, including:
- Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: no known cause and is diagnose in children 0-3 years.
- Congenital scoliosis: occurs when the spine has not developed properly in the womb.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: caused by brain, spinal cord, and muscular system disorders.
- Syndromic scoliosis: develops as part of an underlying disorder or syndrome
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: no known cause and is diagnosed in children 4-10 years.
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: no known cause and is diagnosed in adolescents 11-18.
- Adult idiopathic scoliosis: no known cause and is diagnosed in adults over 18.
Did You Know?
Between 6 and 9 million Americans are affected by scoliosis every year. Out of all the individuals affected by scoliosis, children ages 10-15, specifically girls, are affected the most. Although common in children, scoliosis can also affect adults as well.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I know if I or my child has scoliosis?
You or your child may have scoliosis if you notice uneven hips or shoulders, an off-center head, asymmetrical rib cage, clothes not hanging properly on the body, leaning to one side, uneven legs, or if one hip or shoulder sticks out more than the other. You may also notice mild back pain, although this is more common with long-standing scoliosis.
Additionally, your infant may have scoliosis if you notice a bulge on one side of their chest, the baby sleeping curved to one side, or if problems with the heart and lungs occur.
Am I at an elevated risk for developing scoliosis?
Idiopathic adolescent scoliosis is the most commonly occurring form of scoliosis, so you may be at an elevated risk for developing scoliosis if you are an adolescent, a female, or if you have a family history of scoliosis. Generally, idiopathic adolescent scoliosis symptoms begin during a growth spurt that occurs just before puberty. Although boys and girls are diagnosed for idiopathic adolescent scoliosis at a similar rate, girls are ten times more likely than boys to have their scoliosis progress and require treatment.
Do I need to treat my scoliosis?
Depending on the severity of your scoliosis, you may require treatment. Generally, mild cases with a curvature of 15 degrees or less may only require regular monitoring. However, more moderate and severe cases (20-40 degrees) can cause pain, spinal deformity, and complications with the heart and lungs if left untreated.
If scoliosis is diagnosed while a child is still growing, they can wear a brace that may help to correct or reduce the curve in their spine. Once the bones stop growing, however, braces are rarely effective and usually surgery is the best option. Surgery can also be an option for severe curves that are over 50 degrees.
Can chiropractic care help scoliosis?
Chiropractic care can help functional types of scoliosis. Functional scoliosis refers to benign, small curves that do not involve rib cage deformity. Chiropractic manipulation, heel lifts, and physiotherapy have been successfully used to correct these curves. Examples of functional scoliosis include:
- Postural scoliosis which can develop from unstable posture in children that sit or stand in a tilted position. They usually exhibit a curve of more than 10 degrees, but that lacks actual spinal twisting and rib cage deformation. Chiropractic care can help the child to develop better posture and strengthen the necessary muscles to maintain this posture.
- Short leg scoliosis is caused by having one leg that is shorter than the other. This can usually be corrected by placing a heel or foot lift in one shoe to balance the height difference and alleviate the spinal curve.
- Acute antalgic scoliosis occurs when one leans away from pain caused from a disc injury (antalgia). This leaning can cause a curve to develop that can be corrected by relieving the source of the pain.
Other types of scoliosis, known as structural scoliosis, cannot be corrected through chiropractic manipulation because the spine has become rigid and the curve cannot be reversed. However, chiropractic care involves more than chiropractic manipulation and other chiropractic methods can be used to help alleviate symptoms, such as bracing, exercises, and massage. Structural scoliosis includes adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, neuromuscular scoliosis, and congenital scoliosis. To find out if chiropractic care can benefit your scoliosis, schedule a consultation with Dr. Bryan Foss of Botha Chiropractic today!
What can I expect during my chiropractic appointment?
During your chiropractic appointment at Botha Chiropractic, you will receive an in-depth consultation, a physical exam, and x-rays. You will also receive a 60 minute massage which we be scheduled for a later date. At your appointment, Dr. Foss will ask you about your symptoms and go over your x-rays with you. He will then make treatment recommendations based on your symptoms, physical exam, and x-rays.
What can I do between appointments to help my scoliosis?
After your appointment with Dr. Foss, he will give you special guidelines for things you can do between your appointments. Depending on your individual case, these could be specialized stretches, bracing practices, or general exercises. For the best treatment outcome, it is essential that you follow the instructions Dr. Foss provides you with.
Botha Chiropractic is the premier choice for natural and effective back and neck pain relief in Denver, Colorado. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Bryan Foss today!