We’re guessing you are probably familiar with scoliosis, whether you actual have it yourself or you were checked for scoliosis as a child. It’s a common condition in children and common in adults as well. However, we can’t begin to tell you how many people have come into the office and not been aware that they actually have scoliosis. So our goal here is to make sure you’re aware of what exactly scoliosis is and understand what you can do to take care of it, make it more manageable, and do the best you can to prevent it from affecting your overall health.
What is Scoliosis & How Do You Check for It?
Scoliosis is when you have a sideways curvature of the spine. In particular, when the curve is greater than 10 degrees, that’s when it’s considered scoliosis. When you check for scoliosis, you look at someone’s back straight on. To check for it visually, you can have whoever you’re checking bend forward and touch their toes. If they have scoliosis, that will cause the back to twist when they bend forward & will make the ribs come up on one side. Scoliosis may also cause someone to look unbalanced when standing up straight & looking at them from behind. There may be imbalances in the hips, shoulders, etc.
You may have actually been checked for scoliosis when you were younger in elementary school. Most schools will have their school nurse check everyone because it’s important to detect scoliosis at a young age since many kids will develop it around the time they go through growth spurts before puberty. Depending on the severity of scoliosis, if it goes untreated in a child, then it could worsen as they get older and cause health issues when they’re adults.
Now, it’s important to note that when you’re looking at someone from the side, you’ll typically see some curves and that is normal. One of those curves is called the cervical curve, which is your neck. You also have a thoracic curve (upper back) and lumbar curve (lower back). So when looking at someone from the side, we want to see those kinds of curves. By having healthy curves in your spine, that will minimize stress and help your body stay healthy.
We do want to note, that sometimes scoliosis can be overlooked. Especially if it’s mild and not severe. The problem with being unaware if you have scoliosis is that if years and years go by without any treatment, you could develop issues like degeneration of the spine or arthritis and symptoms such as pain, numbness, or regular discomfort. So we highly recommend if you have any kind of symptoms of discomfort, that you get evaluated by a professional like a chiropractor.
What Causes Scoliosis?
So, you may be wondering what exactly causes scoliosis? Unfortunately, the cause is typically idiopathic, meaning there is no clear understanding of what causes the abnormal curve in the spine. However, some research has shown that it can run in the family. So if a parent has scoliosis, their child may have an increased chance of developing it. Also, girls are more likely to develop more severe scoliosis & require treatment. Now, there are other causes of scoliosis as well such as injury or infection to the spine and neuromuscular conditions, but those are less common.
Why is Scoliosis Such a Concern?
For your body to function optimally, it’s vital that the spine is in proper alignment & everything is balanced. When scoliosis is present, that doesn’t happen. Abnormal curves hurt the spine and prevent it from functioning the way it’s supposed to. Scoliosis can affect the way your joints move and prevent the spine from minimizing extra pressure and stress placed on your muscles, nerves, etc.
Scoliosis doesn’t affect just one part of your back either. What often happens is if you have a curvature developing in your low back area, your body is going to try to compensate by putting another curve in the top of your spine, creating an “S” shape because your body is trying to balance out. So if that curve on the bottom goes to the right, then the top of spine is going to want to shift it to the left so it creates evenness from left to right. This is a very common thing we see in our office. That “S” shape can cause a lot of dysfunction and prevent your body from having the healthy curves it needs to work properly.
Importance of Treatment
Scoliosis can range in severity, but it’s important to have it assessed by a professional if it's present at all. We do want to note that scoliosis is not curable, but it is treatable. That means you can take care of it, manage it, maintain it, prevent it from getting worse.
If you have children, it’s vital to have them checked because as with any issue in life, the earlier & sooner it’s detected, the better the outcome will be. However, if you’re an adult with undetected scoliosis or untreated scoliosis, the issue can still be helped & managed and we absolutely recommend you seek professional help.
When it comes to treatment, the most extreme & not ideal form of treatment for severe scoliosis is surgery. We basically always want surgery to be a last resort option for individuals. When you have surgery for scoliosis, the doctors will basically bend your spine straight and screw it in place with rods and really big screws. Surgeries can often create a lot of tension and stress in the back since you your mobility is limited in the spine. Our recommendation is to meet with a chiropractor, who will be able to help you determine your best plan of action for treatment.
Why You Should See a Chiropractor
As mentioned above, seeing a chiropractor should be your first step to treating scoliosis. When you meet with a chiropractor, they will assess your medical history and take x-rays to determine where there’s damage in your spine and what the exact measurements of your curves are. The great thing about working with a chiropractor, is they’ll also check the functioning of your entire body and not just look at where you have scoliosis. That’s incredibly important because as we mentioned earlier, scoliosis can affect other regions of your body & cause dysfunction in such regions. So you want to work with a chiropractor who will treat those issues as well.
After you’re assessed by the chiropractor, they’ll develop a plan that’s specific to your body and works on not only your spinal alignment but also works with your soft tissue, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. Also, the plan will work to reduce inflammation and stress in the body. Staying on such a plan and then working on proper nutrition and hydration will help your body have the best outcomes possible when it comes to scoliosis.
If you suspect you or your child has scoliosis, don't hesitate to get evaluated. To book an appointment in our office, call our main line 615-915-1255 and we'll be happy to get you set up and started on the path towards managing your scoliosis and staying healthy.