Your spine is made up of 24 bones that stack on top of each other- normally in a straight line. “Scoliosis” means that your spine is curving from side to side, rather than being straight. Scoliosis affects between 1-3% of the population. Scoliosis may begin at any time between birth and adulthood but is most common during times that your skeleton is growing rapidly. Most cases of scoliosis begin between the ages of 13 and 18. Researchers are not completely certain why some people develop scoliosis, but they have found that the problem tends to run in families.

The curve of your scoliosis may be measured with an x-ray. Although some curves get worse, most do not. In fact, only ¼ of all adolescent idiopathic scoliosis curves will progress. Small curves in mature patients have a low risk of progression (2%), while large curves in younger patients progress more frequently. (70%) Curve progression is more common in girls, especially those with larger curves (greater than 20 degrees). Your doctor may need to monitor your scoliosis for progression by performing x-rays every 6-18 months. 

Scoliosis may cause your shoulders, hips, or waist to be unlevel. Most curves are classified as “right thoracic”, which means that the peak of your curve protrudes toward the right. This is often accompanied by a forward rotation of your right shoulder and “winging” of your right shoulder blade. Many patients have a secondary curve in their lower spine that helps to balance their body. The majority of patients with mild to moderate scoliosis have no symptoms, but approximately ¼ report back pain. Unfortunately, scoliosis increases your risk of developing back pain later in life.

The primary goal of treatment is to stop curve progression. While many cases can be slowed or even reversed through appropriate management, it is important to recognize that others may progress in spite of the best care. Conservative care, including spinal manipulation (like the type provided in our office) has been shown to help some patients with scoliosis. Exercise is another effective treatment for scoliosis. It is important that you clearly understand your home exercise program and that you perform it consistently.

Patients with larger curves (30-40 degrees), or those who are at high risk for progression may benefit from wearing a brace. Braces have been shown to decrease the need for surgery in about three out of four patients. Fortunately, less than 0.3% of all scoliosis cases will ever require surgery. 

You should avoid carrying heavy back packs and consider switching to a wheeled version, if necessary. Sports and exercise will not worsen most cases of scoliosis, and you should continue to participate in the things you enjoy unless directed otherwise by your doctor. The diagnosis of scoliosis is always discouraging, but you must focus on what it is really most important. Be confident in who you are! Don’t let something like a curved spine (or any other medical condition) define you as a person.


Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.

Joint Manipulation

Joint Manipulation

Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.

 

Therapy Modalities

Therapy Modalities

We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.

 

Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release

Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.

 

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic Exercise

Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.

 

 

 

After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.

Sleep Posture

Sleep Posture

Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.


  • Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
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Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
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Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
 

Workstation Ergonomics

Workstation Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your workstation to minimize strain in the following ways:

  • Wrists should not be bent while at the keyboard. Forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge.
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Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • Monitors should be visible without leaning or straining and the top line of type should be 15 degrees below eye level.
  • Use a lumber roll for lower back support.
  • Avoid sitting on anything that would create an imbalance or uneven pressure (like your wallet).
  • Take a 10-second break every 20 minutes: Micro activities include: standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign” fashion.
  • Periodically, perform the “Brugger relief position” -Position your body at the chair’s edge, feet pointed outward. Weight should be on your legs and your abdomen should be relaxed. Tilt your pelvis forward, lift your sternum, arch your back, drop your arms, and roll out your palms while squeezing your shoulders together. Take a few deep cleansing breaths.
 

Backpacks

Backpacks

To minimize strain from wearing a backpack, observe the following guidelines:

  • Backpacks should never weight more than 5-10% of a child’s body weight.
  • Shoulder straps should be padded, appropriately adjusted, and worn over both shoulders.
  • Purchase a backpack with an internal frame to distribute the load evenly.
  • Wheeled backpacks are optimal.
 

Lifting Mechanics

Lifting Mechanics

Here are some tips to help you lift safely:

  • Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time).
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Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned.
  • Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs.
  • Keep the object close to your body, within your powerzone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, reposition your feet, not your torso.

An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help.

 
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