Between 6 and 9 million people in the United States are affected with scoliosis. Scoliosis often begins with a slight bend in the spine that gets worse as time passes. A scoliosis diagnosis is made when the spine curves more than 10 degrees to the right or left. If discovered early on and treated with chiropractic care, scoliosis can be prevented from advancing to a debilitating state.Left untreated, scoliosis can cause re-occurring injuries and sciatica. Severe cases can result in diminished lung and heart capacity, painful menstruation, and physical disability.

What is Scoliosis

A completely vertical spine is considered healthy, while a spine with a bend or curve will be diagnosed as scoliosis. At first, the spine may have just a small bend caused by a small misalignment of a single vertebra. If left untreated, the body will compensate for the bend by building musculature around the misaligned vertebra. In an effort to keep the head level, this muscle buildup will continue to pull the spine into lateral curves.

Scoliosis is a spinal disorder whereby there is a sideways curvature(s)of the spine. An exam will reveal an S-shaped or C-shaped curve. As part of the diagnosis, the spine’s curve is measured. A positive diagnosis is a curve greater than 10 degrees. A significant curve is one that is greater than 25 to 30 degrees. A severe curve is one that exceeds 45 to 50 degrees.

The Causes of Scoliosis

Postural issues, degenerative diseases and traumatic accidents are some of the causes of scoliosis. However, over 80% of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning that their underlying cause is unknown. Most often, scoliosis begins in youth aged 10-12 during rapid spurts of growth. Scoliosis is more common in girls than boys.

A paralytic curve can result if the spinal musculature is not working at all. A myopathic deformity can be diagnosed if the musculature is not working but not properly. Scoliosis can also develop in older adults because of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosisor osteomalacia.

The Symptoms of Scoliosis

Scoliosis often does not present with back pain, which makes a physical examination even more important. In addition to back pain, there are other physical signs that can lead to a scoliosis diagnosis:

  • Uneven shoulders or a shoulder blade when standing;
  • A rib hump when bending forward;
  • A lower back hump when bending forward; or
  • One hip appearing higher than the other.

The Treatment of Scoliosis

Chiropractic care can provide specific spinal adjustments that will reverse the body’s compensations for a curve in the spine and assist in the restoration process. Continued chiropractic care can improve the severity of the spinal curve and alleviate pain. Adult braces can also help relieve pain, improve posture, and reduce pressure.

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