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How Chiropractic Care Can Help With Scoliosis

Approximately 2-3% of the population lives with scoliosis. For many people, the condition isn’t severe enough to need invasive interventions like surgery, but for some the related pain and disability can get worse over time. For adults, the largest driving factor behind seeking surgery isn’t the curve in the spine worsening but is because they find it more and more difficult to live with the painful symptoms. And this is where a chiropractor can help.

What is scoliosis?

In adults, the spine is made up of 24 vertebrae (we are born with 33 but some fuse together by the time we reach adulthood). For everybody, there will be a slight curve in the spine from front to back. But for people with scoliosis, there is an additional curve (or curves) from left to right or right to left. The definition of scoliosis is “an abnormal curve of the spine”, with abnormal being that it curves in a different direction than it normally would.

The severity of scoliosis can vary quite drastically. In fact, many people with mild scoliosis can be unaware that they even have the condition until well into adulthood. Most cases of scoliosis, however, are diagnosed just before puberty and in 80% of cases, there is no known cause.

The degree of scoliosis, how much the spine curves, is measured using Cobb’s angle. For a scoliosis diagnosis, a Cobb’s angle of 10 or greater needs to be present. For smaller Cobb’s angles, the treatment is usually “watch and wait”, for moderate cases bracing, and for severe cases (a Cobb’s angle of 45 or greater) surgery is often suggested.

How chiropractic care can help with scoliosis

A chiropractor is an expert in the spine and how it functions, including the surrounding musculature, connective tissue, and nervous system. For this reason, they are in an excellent position to be able to help people who are living with scoliosis. It is unlikely that a chiropractor will be able to reduce the Cobb’s angle but can do in cases where it is being exacerbated by problems with the surrounding structures of the spine.

The most important role for a chiropractor when it comes to treating scoliosis is to reduce the painful and debilitating symptoms associated with it. Since most adults seeking surgery aren’t doing so out of a motivation to reduce the curve in the spine but, instead, to give themselves a better quality of life, a chiropractor can help to prevent unnecessary invasive surgery.

Chiropractic care for scoliosis will usually involve a range of different treatments and therapies to help lessen the symptoms. The twisting of the spine due to the curve can put pressure on different areas of the body, including the back, hips, pelvis, and shoulders which can result in referred pain. So dealing with the entire picture is important.

Treatments can include:

  • scoliosis-specific spinal adjustments
  • soft tissue massage
  • exercises to help strengthen the muscles that support the spine and other affected areas
  • stretches
  • advice sitting and sleeping positions
  • pain-relieving modalities, such as TENs, ultrasound, and laser therapy

If you are living with scoliosis and are finding the pain and disability associated with it are starting to affect your quality of life, getting in touch with a chiropractor can help you to avoid needing surgery. Through careful assessment and diagnostics, they will have a clear understanding of exactly how the curve in your spine is affecting your entire body and will develop a specialized treatment plan to help reduce your symptoms and improve your well-being.

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