Scoliosis and Chiropractic

Scoliosis and Chiropractic

Scoliosis is a serious condition that will require very specific medical attention. In some cases, severe pain and other symptoms will be present, while in others the condition may go undetected. In either case, please read below to learn more about what you can do to treat scoliosis. 

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curvature in the spine when viewed from back-front or front-back. There are 4 main forms of scoliosis. 

  1. Idiopathic: This is the main form of scoliosis. Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown or there is no single factor that contributes to the development of the disease. 

  2. Congenital: This form of scoliosis is due to a spinal defect present at birth. Therefore, this form of scoliosis is typically detected during childhood or adolescent years. 

  3. Neuromuscular: This form of scoliosis is caused by a neurological or muscular development problem that is already present in the body such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. Not all people with a neurological condition will develop scoliosis. 

  4. Degenerative: Degenerative scoliosis happens as a result of the aging process, wear and tear, and repetitive traumas. As the spinal discs and facet joints degenerate, the spine loses it’s normal shape and may develop abnormal curvatures. 

What does scoliosis affect?

Scoliosis affects the spine and all associated structures and tissues. This would include: the spinal bones, joints, discs, the spinal cord, the spinal nerves, and all the muscles in the back. As you can imagine, scoliosis has a negative affect on these structures and tissues because the spinal misalignment of scoliosis causes early wear & tear and spinal degeneration. 

What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

The primary symptoms of scoliosis include pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, numbness/tingling, and premature degeneration of the spinal bones, discs, and joints. 

The devastating effect of scoliosis is that it also places a large amount of pressure and stress on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Our nerves control and coordinate every single function of our body. The nerves literally connect our brain to every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. When pressure is placed on the nerves, the communication pathway becomes disrupted and can lead to systemic dysfunction. Chronic nerve pressure can also be the cause of things like migraines, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel, asthma, stomach issues, sciatica, and much more. 

How is scoliosis diagnosed?

In many cases, scoliosis can seen with the naked eye by visualizing asymmetry in the shoulders, the shoulder blades, the ribcage, or the spine itself. If you suspect scoliosis is present, then a referral for proper x-ray analysis must be made to properly diagnose the condition. 

When it comes to assessing the severity of scoliosis on x-rays, your doctor will refer to an angle called the “Cobb Angle.” This angle is found by measuring from the most tilted vertebra at the top and at the bottom of the scoliosis curvature. 

Angle 0-20 degrees: In these cases, conservative treatments are beneficial and effective at stopping the progression of the scoliosis and in many cases correcting the scoliosis. Conservative treatments include chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage therapy, or a combination of the three. Spinal adjustments, specific postural exercises, and soft tissue release techniques can all be used in these situations.

Angle 20-40 degrees: These cases may require more than just the conservative treatment options. In certain situations, a spinal brace will be prescribed in addition to the conservative treatment methods. There are many braces on the market and your doctor will decide which one is appropriate for your case.

Angle 40 degrees or more: This is considered a severe case of scoliosis and requires a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon. In some cases, back surgery will be recommended as more conservative treatments may not be effective in these cases. 

In our office, we urge patients and parents to come in the moment they suspect a case of scoliosis may be present. The sooner scoliosis is identified, the less time it has to progress and the easier it is to correct. Obviously we want to avoid invasive and high-risk treatments like back surgery whenever possible.


How is scoliosis treated?

As mentioned above, there are several ways to treat scoliosis. The determining factor is usually how severe the scoliosis may be, and what the patient is comfortable with / what makes the most sense to them. 

Depending on the situation, the following are all options for treating scoliosis: conservative exercises, corrective chiropractic care, massage therapy, physical therapy, bracing, spinal surgery. 

Scoliosis and NeuroStructural Chiropractic Care

We deal with scoliosis cases on a regular basis in our office. The care we provide is uniquely tailored to each individual case, but it always consists of the following:

-Health History Review: This gives us the chance to begin to determine when the scoliosis started, how it may have progressed, and what situations/activities are safe to perform and what should be monitored.

-NeuroStructural Examination: This consists of a posture assessment, bilateral weight analysis, thermal nerve scans, and orthopaedic testing. The purpose of this exam is to establish a baseline in order to objectively track progress throughout the duration of care.

-X-ray Evaluation: Digital x-ray analysis is essential for the proper diagnosis of scoliosis. In our office, we take the time to sit down and review each image with the patient so that they can gain a thorough understanding of their spine and what to expect in terms of our corrective care. 

-Corrective Chiropractic Care: Specific chiropractic adjustments, along with a series of stretches, traction, and exercises are given to the patient. The specific combination of these services is what we utilize to address the abnormal curvatures in the spine.

-Progress Evaluations: The large majority of our patients will experience a reduction in their symptoms within the first few weeks of their corrective care. While this is fantastic, we still conduct progress evaluations periodically to objectively measure improvements in the spine.