WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be caused by conditions (e.g. osteoporosis, degenerative changes, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy), the exact cause of most childhood scoliosis is still relatively unknown. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly. Children who have mild scoliosis are monitored closely, usually with X-rays, to see if the curve is getting worse. In many cases, no treatment is necessary. However, even the slightest curve will cause irregular biomechanical wear and tear of the joints and ligaments.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
Typically, those who have scoliosis won’t experience back pain, so it’s important to look for physical signs such as:
- Uneven shoulders or a shoulder blade that protrudes farther than the other when standing
- A rib hump (rib prominence) or a lower back hump (lumbar prominence) when bending forward
- One hip may appear higher than the other
CAN SCOLIOSIS BE “FIXED?”
It’s important to understand from the outset that scoliosis is absolutely treatable, but it isn’t technically “curable.” Scoliosis is sometimes compared to diabetes since it’s a condition that requires ongoing care. It’s important to reframe your thinking from the short term to the long-term here. This is going to be an ongoing battle that you’ll likely be waging the rest of your life. That said, if you find the right approach to managing your scoliosis, you can live a wonderful life with few limitations. As long as you stay dedicated to the plan you develop with your doctor, you can drastically improve the quality of your life without bracing or surgery.
The joints of the spine need to be repositioned first and foremost, but for any long-term benefit to occur, there’s a whole lot more that needs to accompany this repositioning. Your muscles need to be relaxed. Your brain needs to be retrained to use the muscles and spinal joints differently than it’s become accustomed to. In order for scoliosis to be effectively treated, all of these things need to be happening together. In practice, this usually means scoliosis massages, stretches and exercises along with scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments.