Your spine naturally curves from front to back which helps it absorb compressive types of force. Sometimes the spine also curves side to side or along a rotational path affecting its bio-mechanics. We call this scoliosis.
All spines have a normal front to back curvature which helps the body absorb stress and distribute weight evenly. Sometimes the spine will also develop a sideways or rotational curvature which interferes with the body’s normal bio mechanics.
The abnormal curvature seen in scoliosis is often described as being “S” or “C” shape depending on the presentation. It is often first identified in the adolescent and teen years. However, it is common for minor curvatures to go undetected. Structural abnormality is more common in females but also affects a smaller percentage of males.
If left untreated, abnormal spinal curvature often causes no problems. However, severe curvature can cause serious medical problems. Pain, stiffness, and sever spinal deformity may result.
The spine and rib cage are connected and the abnormal curvature of the spine can change the position of the ribs, thereby putting pressure on nearby organs. Health risks from severe curvature include neurological problems from pressure on nerves, arthritis and even lung and heart problems.
Physical Signs of Scoliosis
- One shoulder higher than the other
- One hip higher than the other
- One leg longer than the other
- One shoulder blade sticking out further than the other
- Uneven rib prominence when lying down.
A Chiropractor can diagnose scoliosis and is specially trained to treat the associated spinal issues. They are able to accurately determine the extent of the condition. X-rays may be used to determine the rotation and direction of the curve.
Your chiropractor’s goal is early detection and conservative care. If started on a program of exercise and appropriate therapy early enough, it is possible to slow, stop or even reverse the progress of spinal curvature.
It is not uncommon for adults to develop a physiological scoliosis from prolonged uneven stress on the body. An example of this type of stress is carrying a child on one hip.
Medical management of scoliosis often involves a ‘wait and see’ approach. Although this may work for slow;u progressing cases, others may progress rapidly creating significant spinal deformity. When the problem becomes severe enough, braces or surgery may be necessary.
Chiropractors return the vertebrae to a more normal position. With careful monitoring, regular treatment and exercise the spinal deformity of scoliosis can be minimized and invasive procedures can often be avoided.