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Scoliosis Treatment: A Springfield, IL Chiropractor’s Perspective

When you look at a spine from the side, you will notice three distinct curves are present: a cervical curve (neck), a thoracic curve (upper and middle back), and a lumbar curve (lower back). These curves are normal and healthy, as they allow the spine to act like a shock-absorbing spring protecting against the constant array of forces placed on the spine through everyday life. When you look at a spine from the front or back, it should appear as a straight line up and down. When side-to-side curvatures are present in this view, this is called scoliosis.

Scoliosis is a condition that affects 3% of the US population, but in roughly 90% of the cases, it is not severe enough to warrant any type of surgery. Thankfully this is the case because surgery for scoliosis is invasive and requires the use of rods to hold the spine in a proper shape. Progressive scoliosis – meaning that it gets worse over time – is more commonly seen in females. Physical therapy is a common treatment route when it comes to treating scoliosis, and in more severe cases the use of braces may be involved to help hold the spine in the proper position while the individual continues to grow and develop.

According to the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons, 80% of cases of scoliosis have no identifiable cause. The other 20% of cases usually happen secondary to some other type of condition such as muscular dystrophy or spina bifida. Because of this, it is usually an incidental finding noticed either by a parent or a doctor. They may notice some features of scoliosis such as one shoulder or hip being higher than the other, or perhaps notice the ribcage being more rotated towards one side. Once noticed, it is common to obtain full-spine x-rays to fully visualize the shape of the individual’s spine and determine the correct course of action.

For this reason, early detection and intervention are so important. Human beings typically reach full skeletal maturity at age 25, so the sooner interventions can be made the more promising the treatment outcomes for scoliosis will be. Chiropractors are well-positioned to help these individuals because they are experts in manipulating the spine and establishing the best possible spinal alignment.

How We Treat Scoliosis

Comprehensive Consultation and Examination

At The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center, every new patient experience begins with a detailed consultation and examination with one of our doctors. The consultation is the time to talk about the history of your scoliosis and the symptoms it has caused. We also want to find out what kind of effect this has had on your life. Perhaps your scoliosis has kept you from doing things you either want to do or need to do. Our doctors know how important these things are to you, and these things help them shape the goals for care that you will work towards in tandem with them.

After the consultation, the doctor will do a thorough examination consisting of orthopedic, neurologic, and functional movement testing. These tests are crucial to understanding your condition from a functional level, they also provide deep insight into what the best treatment recommendations will be. In some cases of scoliosis, our doctors will send out an order for x-rays so that the shape of your spine and curvatures can be visualized. This can provide valuable clinical information that ensures that going forward with chiropractic care is a safe and viable option. Overall, this new patient experience is crucial as it begins the relationship between doctor and patient and provides the foundation for the work ahead.

Specific Chiropractic Care

For the treatment of scoliosis, chiropractic care is a wonderful option that can help provide relief from symptoms and improve function without the use of drugs, injections, or surgery. When a bone or section of the spine is misaligned, it can put pressure and irritation on nerves. This is called subluxation. Chiropractors are the only healthcare professionals who are trained to identify and correct subluxations in the spine. Our chiropractors at The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center have helped thousands of people find relief from chronic back pain, neck pain, and headaches naturally.

With scoliosis, the curvatures in the spine place a great deal of abnormal stress on different joints and nerves causing common symptoms like pain, numbness/tingling, and weakness. Having your spine adjusted can help teach the body what normal alignment should be and over time improved alignment can be achieved even with scoliosis. It should be said, however, that the younger you are the more effective this treatment is. For this reason, we encourage parents of kids with scoliosis to consider chiropractic care. The spine reaches skeletal maturity around 25 years old, so making changes to it before that makes outcomes more promising.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan

Due to the curvatures that are the hallmark of a condition like scoliosis, it is inherent that there will be muscle imbalance throughout that individual’s spine. Remember, normal alignment means the spine is directly up and down, and the muscles around the spine (which are the same on both sides) are balanced and equal. With scoliosis, the curvatures create certain areas of weakness and other areas of tightness. These muscle imbalances can cause subluxations to continually occur in the spine in addition to the existing curvatures.

In addition to chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic exercise has an important role to play in managing scoliosis. Our trainer specializes in improving mobility, posture, as well as conditions like scoliosis, by helping to achieve muscle balance. Strengthening muscles that are weak and stretching muscles that are tight is a foundation to productive therapeutic exercise, and our patients achieve great outcomes when combining exercise with other treatment modalities at The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center. It is truly a 360-degree approach to managing scoliosis effectively.

Spinal Decompression

Because of the angles in the spine that exist due to scoliosis, there can be many areas of abnormal compressive force being applied to the vertebrae, discs, and nerves in this spine. These compressive forces can cause symptoms such as pain and limited range of motion, and also be a precursor to earlier onset of conditions like degenerative arthritis. Decreasing the amount of compression on the spine can help improve mobility, decrease pain, and preserve disc integrity. At our office, we accomplish this through spinal decompression.

Decompression is a common treatment modality in conjunction with treatments like chiropractic adjustments. These adjustments can be more effective with a spine that is looser and more mobile, which decompression provides. This is essential if any changes are to be made to a scoliotic spine. Decompression also takes pressure off the nerves which can provide some crucial relief from ongoing pain. We can accommodate decompression for either the neck or lower back, making this versatile treatment a fantastic option for natural relief.

Massage Therapy

As mentioned above, it is very common in people with scoliosis to have areas in the spine with significant amounts of muscle tension built up. If one side of your spine is curved to where the muscles get shorter on that side, and then they stay shortened for years or even decades, it is natural that muscle tension would be extremely high. One of the ways we manage this at The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center is through massage therapy. We have three therapists on our staff who are experts in their craft and ready to serve you.

Decreasing muscle tension in a spine with scoliosis can relieve achy discomfort that seems to constantly linger. It can also make the spine more mobile, which provides a foundation for changes to the shape of the spine to occur through other treatments like chiropractic and exercise. When all of these treatments work in unison, patients simply get the best outcomes and achieve a higher quality of life.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Scoliosis

Risk Factors of Scoliosis

There are a few different risk factors that are associated with scoliosis, of which the first and most important is age. The majority of cases of scoliosis are ‘congenital’ which means it was that way from birth and is likely how the spine was developed in utero. Despite this, the most common age range of onset is 10-15 years old. This is not surprising, given the fact that a great deal of growth occurs during these ages. Age is also crucial because when it comes to treatment, earlier is definitely better. It is optimal to undergo treatment of some sort before the age of skeletal maturity, which is around 25. After this point, the bones and joints are more rigid and less impressionable to significant movement.

When it comes to gender as a risk factor, scoliosis development is pretty even between males and females. Females, however, are up to eight times more likely to see the condition progress to where treatment is needed. This ties back to the age risk factor where earlier intervention can be key for obtaining the best outcomes. There may be a familial aspect to scoliosis as well. Because the majority of cases are idiopathic (of unknown origin) there may be a genetic component that explains why some kids develop the condition and some do not. Regardless, these risk factors provide helpful information for healthcare providers who are tasked with overseeing the care of these individuals.

Complications From Scoliosis

It is important to be aware that scoliosis can cause certain complications that can decrease a person’s quality of life and can also be dangerous. For example, if there is enough curvature through the thoracic spine (middle back) the rib cage can be rotated and distorted in such a way that prevents the lungs from being able to fully expand. This can make breathing difficult and, over time, decrease lung function overall. This can pose a serious problem and must be addressed by a team of healthcare providers to determine the next best steps, whether that be conservative care or more invasive interventions.

Another complication that can arise, perhaps more obviously, is chronic back problems. Remember, there is a lot of stress being placed on the joints, discs, and nerves in the spine as a result of these abnormal curvatures. Over time, this can become increasingly painful and can lead to chronic back pain, hip pain, neck pain, or even headaches. Conservative measures such as chiropractic care are a great way to manage these symptoms effectively and maintain a high quality of life.

One final complication of scoliosis is more of a social aspect, and that is regarding one’s appearance. Some people with mild to moderate scoliosis don’t have any obvious changes to their appearance, but others who have significant curvature in their spine may display more noticeable postures such as one shoulder or hip being much more elevated than the other or more rotation in their middle back that can cause a hump-shaped appearance. Unfortunately, this may make these individuals feel insecure or different, but the reality is that they are nothing to be ashamed of! Everyone is made differently and these people have just as great a chance of living normal healthy lives as people without scoliosis, and THAT is what is most important.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Ultimately, it is important to understand that chiropractic has a lot to offer the scoliosis community. To be able to provide things such as pain relief, improved range of motion, and improved flexibility without the use of drugs or surgery is a major win for our healthcare system. With the opioid crisis in full swing in the U.S, treatments like chiropractic are essential in decreasing the number of people who are stuck taking these medications because they feel like there is no other option. It is a cost-effective treatment that addresses the root cause of the problem. It can improve day-to-day functionality and improve the quality of your life or your child’s life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Chiropractor good for scoliosis?

Yes, there are many chiropractors in the Springfield area who are ready to help. The Chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center is one of the highest-rated and most sought-out chiropractic offices because we have the necessary tools to provide life-changing care and get you or your loved one on the path towards a higher quality of life with scoliosis.

Can chiropractic adjustments fix scoliosis?

In some cases, curvatures due to scoliosis can be significantly reduced through natural chiropractic care. Generally speaking, the earlier in life intervention can occur, the better the outcomes. It is important to make changes to the spine before the age of skeletal maturity, while the joints of the spine are at their most mobile.

Can you straighten scoliosis without surgery?

It is absolutely possible to see a great amount of reduced curvature in the spine without invasive surgery. Chiropractic care, exercise, and spinal decompression are three treatments that can significantly help in reducing the angles of these scoliotic curvatures and providing better mobility and posture in these individuals.

What problems can scoliosis cause?

Scoliosis can cause many different problems for people who have it. From aches and pains to posture problems, and in more serious cases, breathing problems. It is important to get your spine checked by a chiropractor as soon as possible so that your or your child’s care can be appropriately managed from that point.

What happens if scoliosis is left untreated in adults?

Scoliosis that is left untreated can lead to a number of outcomes. Some individuals may not experience much pain or changes in everyday life. Others may experience chronic pain due to the stress placed on the spine from the persistence of scoliotic curvatures. Some can develop arthritis as a result of scoliosis. It all just depends on the individual and their lifestyle.

Scoliosis Treatment Springfield, IL | (217) 726-0422