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  • Writer's pictureDr Travis Horne

Scoliosis & Chiropractic Treatment

Scoliosis is a deformity of the normal vertical line of the spine. It consists of a lateral curvature and rotation of the vertebrae. There may be many causes of scoliosis such as congenital, neuromuscular, syndrome-related, idiopathic and spinal curvature due to secondary reasons. The majority of cases are idiopathic.

Signs and symptoms may include uneven shoulders, where one or both shoulder blades may stick out, head is not centered directly above the pelvis, one or both hips are raised or unusually high, rib cages are at different height, waist is uneven, the appearance or texture of the skin overlying the spine changes (dimples, hairy patches, color abnormalities) and/or the entire body leans to one side.

Family history may indicate a predisposition. Scoliosis affects 2-3 percent of the population, or an estimated six to nine million people in the United States. Scoliosis can develop in infancy or early childhood. The primary age of onset for scoliosis is 10-15 years old, occurring equally among both genders. The prevalence of scoliosis is 1% to 2% in school children and rises above 8% in adults aged 25 and older. Although, idiopathic scoliosis doesn’t always cause pain. It often comes to attention through a hunched back, lumbar bulging, and/or asymmetry of the shoulders, chest, and pelvis. Scoliosis causes asymmetrical gravitational loading on the spine and disk elements leading to asymmetric degeneration. It ultimately causes the adult scoliosis to progress and negatively affect quality of life later. The only way to improve the asymmetrical degenerative environment is to promote symmetry of the global spine, and remove asymmetrical gravitational loading.

Scoliosis is diagnosed on plain X-ray films and its severity is expressed by the Cobb angle. The treatment for idiopathic scoliosis is generally determined based on age, curve magnitude, risk of progression and severity of clinical manifestations. If the Cobb angle does not exceed 20° in adolescent scoliosis, the probability of progression is only about 10% to 20%. Generally, patients with idiopathic scoliosis after skeletal maturity, with curves less than 30° do not progress, while most curves of greater than 50° continue to approximately 1° per year.

Chiropractic treatment can be a great addition to scoliosis treatment. In one study, the average Cobb angle was 44° ± 6° at the start. Patients ranged in age between 18 and 54 years old with a median age of 34 years, with 26 women and 2 men. A mean of 10° ± 9° reduction was observed after receiving chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic rehabilitation methods were used to reduce the severity of scoliosis, as well as its effect on pain, activities of daily living, and respiratory function.

In another study, a 15-year-old girl experienced right thoracic scoliosis for 4 years. She received regular rehabilitation and brace treatment for 4 years, but the curvature of the thoracic spine still progressed. The Cobb angle was 46 degrees and surgical intervention was suggested to prevent significant deformity and risk of cardiopulmonary compromise. She was treated with spinal manipulation two times per week for 6 weeks at the outset, which was gradually decreased in frequency. After 18 months of consecutive treatment, follow-up radiographs and examinations were conducted. The Cobb angle decreased by 16 degrees. At the same time, the patient's lower backache eased and there was also an improvement in defecation frequency, which had been problematic


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