Your spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae that stack up one on top of the other to form a straight line when viewed from front to back. When the spine curves or twists excessively side-to-side it is called scoliosis (Greek skolios or “crooked”).
What Causes Scoliosis?
In most cases of scoliosis the cause is a mystery; the vertebrae and spinal structures – discs, Ligaments, tendons and muscles – all appears normal. In a minority of cases the scoliosis is caused by conditions such as a tumor, trauma, infection, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, a birth deformity or disc problems.
Further deepening the mystery of scoliosis is the fact that no one knows why some minor curves get worse whereas about 90% do not. Most people with scoliosis can lead normal lives, never even knowing that they have the condition. No one dies from scoliosis, but in some cases scoliosis suffers can have breathing or heart problems if the curve is very severe.
There appears to be some unknown controlling factor in scoliosis that causes a healthy spine to assume and unusual shape. Is there a genetic component? An emotional factor? Is it the nervous system? If there is anything that all scoliosis researchers can agree on, it’s that few of them agree.
Bracing & Other Treatments
Does bracing help? Initial studies show that curves improve an average of 50% of the time with braces. However, when bracing was followed in the long term, a gradual loss of correction was observed. Electrical stimulation also appears to be “ineffectual” as are plaster casts.
According to Robert Mendelson, M.D.: “Scoliosis is not serious unless the curvature of the spine is severe, but it is overtreated almost as often as it is over diagnosed. If your child is diagnosed as a victim of scoliosis, don’t except surgical procedures or even bracing without first exploring all of the less radical treatment alternatives.”
“Epidemiological studies on scoliosis are so scant that we know next to nothing. There are no prospective controlled studies regarding the effects of orthotic treatment on the natural history of idiopathic scoliosis... Is anything actually prevented or is the progression merely delayed until a later period of life? The answers simply are not known."1
Research on scoliosis shows an important contributing factors may be a disturbance or defect in the area of the nervous system that controls posture, body balance and positioning.
The Chiropractic Approach
The purpose of chiropractic is to correct subluxations – a condition that interferes with the proper functioning of the nervous system in the body as a whole. Recent research suggesting that scoliosis may be caused by a neurological defects reinforces the validity of the chiropractic approach.
Researchers have observed that “only manipulation can constantly bring about correction“ of scoliosis curves. In one study of 19 subjects with scoliosis, chiropractic care successfully reduced the Cobb angles in of all of them. The average initial Cobb angle of the study’s participants was 28 degrees and by the end of care the average was 11 degrees, with the greatest improvement at 33 degrees. 2
One study of 28 adult patients demonstrated “sustained radiographic, self-rated, and physiologic benefits... after completion of a multimodal chiropractic rehabilitation treatment. Patients reported improvements in pain, Cobb angle, and disability.” Improvements remained on 24 month follow-up.3
Chiropractors are Specially Trained
Only a doctor of chiropractic is specially trained to locate the correct subluxations – spinal abnormalities that can affect not only the spine, but the entire body. Every scoliosis suffer should be under chiropractic care. A body without subluxations is in a better position to resist abnormalities and diseases of all kinds, including scoliosis.