Scoliosis

Symptoms

Lower, mid, or upper back pain can occur in varying degrees of severity in patients who have scoliosis. Visible symptoms of scoliosis include one shoulder appearing higher than the other, one hip appearing higher than the other, rib protrusion or a noticeable lean to one side. The spinal curvature creates higher torsion and compression at predictable locations along the spine and can be areas associated with pain.

Causes

Scoliosis can be the temporary result of muscle spasms in the back, inflammatory conditions or a difference in leg length. More often than not, there is no identifiable or traumatic event that causes scoliosis and it is a permanent shape of the person’s spine. Acute conditions, such as muscle spasms, postural compensation due to other bodily injury or other unusual circumstance, can lead to a permanent scoliosis if not properly addressed. Not caring for scoliosis with a comprehensive lifestyle of exercise, stretching, postural habits, chiropractic, nutrition, proper mattress, etc., can lead to progression of the curvature abnormality as the spine “caves in” on itself, leading to disability.

patient with scoliosisBackground

There are many forms of scoliosis, the 4 most common being idiopathic scoliosis, congenital scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis, and neuromuscular scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis and generally affects children and adolescents. There is usually no known cause for idiopathic scoliosis, and symptoms are usually very mild if present at all. Most children or adolescents diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis see a doctor every 6 months, but do not require further care. If the curve of the spine does not exceed 30 degrees by the time the individual stops growing, there is little likelihood that it will progress throughout the rest of life. A curve greater than 30 degrees is likely to progress and requires further treatment to stabilize and correct. Congenital scoliosis is a relatively rare form of scoliosis that results from an abnormally developed vertebral column. The number and location of abnormalities determine how severe the congenital scoliosis curve will become. In cases where there is only one malformed vertebrae, the curvature may be very hard to detect, whereas when multiple vertebrae are affected the curvature is easily diagnosed. Congenital scoliosis must be monitored closely for an increasing curvature. If the curvature progresses even slightly, surgical intervention is necessary.

Degenerative scoliosis is the result of the deterioration of the spinal column with age. As with all joints of the body, the joints of the spinal column experience wear and tear and may begin to deteriorate over time. If this deterioration does not occur evenly on both sides of the spine, degenerative or adult scoliosis can result. Previous back surgery, a traumatic episode and osteoporosis can play roles in the onset of degenerative scoliosis. Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs when the curvature is the result of weakened spinal muscles or neurological problems. This type of scoliosis is most common among individuals with neuromuscular conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy that do not allow them to walk.

Aligned Medical Group’s Approach

We use a comprehensive approach when managing scoliosis. We consider the numerous spine issues that can result from abnormal pressures on the spinal column. We may recommend trigger point injections into tight muscles to ease tension. Some patients benefit from bracing to help reduce pressures during activity. Our initial goal is to maximize flexibility and range of motion at the points along your curve where spinal compression occurs. As this happens, we add strengthening exercises to stabilize your spine and minimize future wear and tear.

Therapies, such as joint mobilization, chiropractic, stretching and rehabilitative exercises are all beneficial. We use a specialized treatment table, equipped with mechanisms to isolate areas of your spine with high tension and lengthen your spinal column to a straighter position. While this typically will not correct a spinal curvature that is chronic, it can drastically reduce joint compression and assist healing any damaged structures along the weight-bearing portion of your spine. We also teach our patients how to exercise properly, and perhaps a little differently on 1 side of your body than the other, to compensate for the curve.