Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed that one shoulder is higher than the other? Or that your shirt tends to look crooked or always falls off of one shoulder? Many people notice this and write it off as “just a high shoulder” or “this shirt doesn’t fit”. But there is a high likelihood that this high shoulder could be a far bigger problem. A high shoulder is usually an indicator of curvature or scoliosis of the upper part of the spine. Your shoulder girdle is made up of the shoulder blade (scapula), the collar bone (clavicle), and the upper arm bone (humerus). The shoulder joint itself is a shallow ball and socket joint and the humerus directly attaches to the socket of the scapula. The entire shoulder girdle sits on top of the rib cage, and the ribs attach to the breastbone (sternum) in the front, and the spine in the back. If there is a curve in the upper or middle thoracic spine, the rib cage will be elevated on the side the spine curves to, and the shoulder will elevate. It’s simple mechanics.
What is the Difference Between a Curve and Scoliosis of the Spine?
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine of 10 degrees or more and a curvature is less than 10 degrees. And this is not normal. These spinal curvatures and scoliosis can cause pain and dysfunction. Scoliosis affects most of the major systems of the body: nervous, digestive, musculoskeletal, endocrine, immune, and can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. This is due to the altered function of the spine, causing interference to the spinal cord and exiting spinal nerves. We do know, however, that scoliosis does not correct itself, generally, it gets worse over time, and requires active care to correct.
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. I believe that scoliosis is much more common than 4%, simply because it is not well measured.
The medical approach to scoliosis is watchful waiting for curves less than 25 degrees! Are you kidding me? That’s a lot of curve! In our office, we start diagnosing and correcting curves as early as possible, when they are more easily corrected. Waiting until 25 degrees is ridiculous. It just makes sense to take care of the problem before it progresses to that point.
The chiropractic approach involves early intervention when scoliosis, curves, 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.
So when you look at yourself in the mirror or in a picture and you see a high shoulder, it should be checked out. The majority of the time it is an indicator of scoliosis or spinal curvature and something can be done about it with chiropractic care to avoid problems in the future.
Who do you know that could benefit from chiropractic care? Mention this blog for your complimentary consultation and exam ($75 value!) to see if chiropractic can help you!* Call us today at 512-346-3536 or request an appointment here.
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