If you are worried about your posture, you should be. Poor posture, such as slumped shoulders, a high shoulder or high hip can indicate scoliosis or curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is not merely an abnormal curvature of the spine. In fact, the laterally displaced curve you see is only one of the many symptoms of a greater systemic disease. Scoliosis affects most of the major systems of the body: nervous, digestive, musculoskeletal, endocrine, immune and can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular problems. This is due to altered function of the spine, causing interference to the spinal cord and exiting spinal nerves.
Although there are different kinds of scoliosis, idiopathic (unknown cause) scoliosis accounts for the majority of cases (about 80-85%). We see a lot of scoliosis in my office and often find that it started with a short leg, even as little as ¼ to ½ inch, which can then cause the pelvis to drop down and the spine to curve in compensation. About 1 out of 5 people have a significant short leg. That’s a lot of people! And the only way to find out for sure if you have a short leg is to take a standing x-ray of the pelvis. You can not determine short leg by measuring a person’s leg length. There are too many variables. In other cases, we find that a child has had a trauma which has caused the spine to subluxate (misalign). The body’s attempt to compensate will cause the scoliosis. While 4% of the general population (male and female) has scoliosis, teenage girls have 8 times more scoliosis than boys. That’s why it is so important that children have their spines checked regularly, at least once a year.
Abnormal types of postural loads can cause changes in the normal curvature of the spine. You can cause structural problems to the spine due to poor posture, carrying a purse or backpack, and other abnormal activities. Your body will deform under pressure, even if the pressure is applied in a small manner continually over time. This is called Wolff’s law and basically states that bone will remodel to increased stress over time. Constant abnormal stress causes deformation…like how a tree will grow crooked if weighted to one side.
It is difficult to accurately predict the amount of curve progression over time in the untreated individual. We do know, however, that scoliosis does not correct itself, and requires active care.
The medical approach to scoliosis is watchful waiting for curves less than 25 degrees! Are you kidding me? That’s a lot of curve! We start adjusting curves as early as possible when they are easily correctable. Waiting until 25 degrees is ridiculous. But that’s because the medical profession can do nothing for scoliosis except bracing and surgery.
After 25 degrees, the medical treatment for scoliosis is bracing. The braces are horribly uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and very hot. And since the average person wearing a brace is a teenage girl, it is devastating to their self-esteem and ability to participate in activities and sports. And by the way, medical bracing seldom works. After the brace is removed, the spine usually collapses and is worse than before. After 40 degrees, the medical solution is usually surgery. This surgery is life altering and brutal. The surgeon cuts out chunks of bone at every level of the spine involved and attaches rods. The spine is rigid at that point and life is quite different forever.
The chiropractic approach involves early intervention when the scoliosis, or the subluxations are easy to correct. It can take weeks to months of regular adjustments, depending on the severity. It also involves specific, customized exercises tailored to the individual, and home tractioning to accomplish correction.
Chiropractic care is a gentle, non-invasive way to correct postural distortions, including scoliosis. This is our passion in my office, and we especially want to reach out to children, when we have the best chances at full correction. Get your kids to a chiropractor, even if they have been checked at school. School checks miss most scoliosis unless it is severe. Chiropractors are the experts on the spine. Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation at 512-346-3536 or request an appointment online.