From Diagnosis to Treatment: Everything You Need to Know About Scoliosis

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Did you know scoliosis affects 2 to 3% of the world’s population? That’s more people than the entire population of Australia! Of course, we’re not saying everyone in Australia has a spicy spine, but it does put that seemingly insignificant percentage into perspective.

In this article, we will take a scenic tour through the winding roads of scoliosis. We’ll start by answering the most pressing question: What is scoliosis? From there, we’ll explore the two main types of scoliosis: functional and structural. Feel free to jump to the relevant section if you’ve already been diagnosed with one or the other. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book with fewer monsters and more practical spine health advice.

We’ll make various treatment stops along the way, focusing on chiropractic care. So, whether you’re a patient, a caregiver, or just someone who fell down the internet rabbit hole and ended up here, buckle up for a comprehensive overview of scoliosis. 

What Is Scoliosis?

We use the term scoliosis to describe a sideways curvature of the spine. This condition often arises during the growth spurts that occur just before puberty. However, scoliosis can also be idiopathic, meaning it can have no known cause. 

While it can be mild in some cases, in others, it can be degenerative, becoming progressively worse as the sufferer ages. 

The signs and symptoms of scoliosis include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Limitations in mobility
  • Leaning while standing
  • One hip higher than the other
  • One shoulder is higher than the other
  • The head not centred over the body
  • Difficulty with certain daily activities due to imbalance
  • In severe cases, respiratory difficulties due to reduced chest space

Types of Scoliosis

There are two main types of scoliosis: structural and functional.

Structural Scoliosis

Structural scoliosis is the form for which most of us were tested as kids in school. It happens when there’s a natural lateral curve of the spine. That is to say, the spine curves sideways and can progress over time if not treated appropriately. 

In addition to the abnormal lateral curvature, structural scoliosis usually involves some rotation of the vertebrae. With their spines curved sideways and usually somewhat twisted, you can understand why people with structural scoliosis have the trademark awkward posture. This form of scoliosis is typically permanent unless the spine receives treatment. 

What Causes Structural Scoliosis? 

Sometimes, it’s simply a genetic feature the person was born with. However, structural scoliosis can also arise after injuries or as a result of tumours, infections of the spine, genetic disorders like Marfan syndrome, or conditions like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. It can also arise in older adults due to disc degeneration, arthritis, or osteoporosis. 

Functional Scoliosis

Also known as nonstructural scoliosis, functional scoliosis occurs where the spine appears curved, but the apparent curvature is due to an irregularity elsewhere in the body. 

Functional scoliosis can be painful, uncomfortable, and problematic. However, it is nonstructural, meaning there is no abnormality within the spine itself. This form of the ailment is temporary and reversible with the proper treatment. It also lacks the rotational component that makes structural scoliosis such a time-intensive condition to treat.

What Causes Functional Scoliosis? 

Our bodies love symmetry. Functional scoliosis arises from the body’s natural effort to maintain that equilibrium. The spinal curve is the body’s way of compensating for the underlying problem, whether physical or habit. Your spine can be forced into a problematic curvature by issues such as: 

  • Unequal Leg Length: This is the most common cause of functional scoliosis. When one leg is shorter than the other, the body naturally tries to maintain symmetry, so the spine curves to compensate.
  • Pelvic Obliquity: This refers to a tilt or rotation of the pelvis, which can lead to a compensatory curve in the spine.
  • Muscle Imbalance: If the muscles on one side of the body are stronger or more tense than the other, the spine can be pulled out of alignment. This can occur in mothers who spend extended periods carrying babies on one hip or from sports or exercise that concentrates movement on one side of the body.
  • Neuromuscular Conditions: Certain conditions that affect the nerves and muscles can also lead to functional scoliosis.
  • Chronic Poor Posture: Maintaining poor posture over a long period can lead to functional scoliosis.

If you receive a functional scoliosis diagnosis, you will need to learn how to help your body maintain healthy alignment. However, you likely won’t need any invasive procedures. 

Treatments for Scoliosis

Treatment protocols for scoliosis depend greatly on the patient’s age and the type and severity of the condition. Braces, surgery, or spinal fusion techniques can be used to treat more pronounced spinal curvature. 

Children with mild scoliotic curves often don’t require any specific treatment. However, they should receive regular checkups to see what’s happening with the curve as they grow. If the curve is significant to begin with or worsens over time, bracing or surgery may be the next logical step.

Chiropractor treating a patient with scoliosis

Chiropractic for Scoliosis

Can Chiro fix scoliosis? Chiropractic treatment won’t completely cure structural scoliosis. However, it can provide relief by improving flexibility and reducing pain. Your chiropractor will use gentle but effective techniques, such as spinal adjustments, to better align the spine and ease muscle tension. 

While it’s no magic potion, chiropractic care can help manage discomfort, restore freedom of movement, and improve overall spinal health. This can do wonders for lifting spirits and improving outlook on life.  

Chiropractic scoliosis treatment is more than just satisfying cracks. From spinal manipulation and massage to flexion and distraction of the spine, your chiropractor will carefully select the right tools for you and design a treatment plan specifically suited to your unique spine. 

Regular adjustments, either with hands or a device, are part of this treatment. The goal is to realign the muscles, bones, and joints, setting the stage for a healthier, happier spine. 

If you’d like to learn more about how a chiropractic session for scoliosis will feel, visit our scoliosis spinal adjustment guide. We take you through all the details of the spinal adjustment process, from testing through diagnosis and treatment. 

Research on Chiropractic Treatment for Scoliosis

While more research is needed in this area, thorough case studies suggest that chiropractic is effective in managing scoliotic curves.

One such study, conducted in 2011, found that scoliosis patients who received chiropractic spinal adjustment and manipulation saw an average reduction in spine curvature of 10.0° lasting for 24 months. For some specific types of scoliosis, the reduction was as high as 17.2° for 24 months.

These findings suggest that chiropractic treatment can help manage the pain and physical symptoms of scoliosis, greatly improving quality of life. However, it’s important to remember that every patient is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional to discuss your treatment options.

Finding Relief From Scoliosis

Remember, every spine has its unique journey. While we can’t promise a straight road ahead, we can make the ride more comfortable. So, if your spine feels more like a twisty country road than a smooth highway, it’s time to speak with Be Fit Chiro. 

Our experienced chiropractors are ready to guide you through managing your scoliosis, utilising techniques to improve your flexibility, reduce discomfort, and enhance your overall spinal health. Our caring practitioners will take you through all the necessary testing and design a treatment plan tailored to your symptoms, health goals, and lifestyle. 

Most importantly, you’re investing in your well-being. So, call us at (03) 9118-0619 or book your appointment online. Let’s start working together towards a healthier you.

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