Scoliosis, the abnormal sideways curve to the spine, only affects between 2 and 3 percent of the children in the US but if it is your child you surely want the most effective care. Chiropractic doctors have been helping children with scoliosis for more than 100 years but only recently has the effectiveness of their care been documented in the scientific literature.
Causes and Symptoms
The normal spine curves substantially front to back but is normally fairly straight side to side. Scoliosis is a noticeable sideways curve of the spine that sometimes develops in children, especially girls, often during growth spurts just before puberty. Generally the curve stops getting worse once a child stops growing but in some cases, it progresses into adulthood. The cause of most cases is simply unknown and so it’s called “idiopathic.” There are some cases caused by other conditions like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy but this article is about the idiopathic type.
Sometimes the curve is mild, causes few problems, and the child is merely monitored closely to insure the curve gets no worse. More severe curves cause disability, difficulty breathing, and disfigurement from tilted hips and shoulders. Severe cases also cause the spine to twist causing a shoulder blade in back or one side of the rib cage in front to protrude farther than the other side.
The Brace Option
If mild cases begin to get worse (curves from 25 degrees up to 45 degrees) braces are often fitted to try to prevent further progression but any correction to the curve seems to be temporary as “usually the curve will assume its original magnitude once the brace is removed.” They might help sometimes but one study of adolescent males found they were unsuccessful 76% of the time. Then there is the cost, an estimated average of $2,100 for a brace plus all the fitting costs and checkups. There is also the fact that they can be very uncomfortable and often need to be worn day and night, up to 22 to 23 hours a day. They often press in on the abdominal area making it difficult to breathe or eat much. “children may even lose weight from the brace.”
When the curves get too great (about 45 degree curves) surgery is the remaining option. The the vertebra are pulled reasonably straight with instruments of rods, screws, hooks and wires until they can fuse the vertebra of the spine together with bone grafts throughout the abnormally curved part of the spine (usually a large part if not most part of the spine.) The patient of courses losses all flexibility of the spine where fused together and the average cost is over $31,00 a case.
The Chiropractic Option
While bracing and surgery is the traditional treatment route, a recent study found chiropractic care surprisingly helpful. This study was of 28 adult scoliosis patients with average curves of 44 degrees (severe enough for surgery.) They found that after six months of chiropractic care in fairfax va, the scoliosis curves were significantly reduced. “Across all spinal groups, an average 10 degree reduction persisted for 24 months, again the length of the study. It was also concluded that pain scales reduced by 60 percent at 24 months and function improved by 70 percent, while respiratory capacity increased by 7 percent.” The authors of that study concluded: “This report is among the first to demonstrate sustained radiographic, self-rated, and physiologic benefits after treatment ceases. After completion of a multimodal chiropractic rehabilitation treatment, a retrospective cohort of 28 adult scoliosis patients reported improvements in pain, Cobb angle (curve), and disability immediately following the conclusion of treatment and 24 months later.”
They used an exercise based chiropractic program not just adjustments and the results are impressive. Chiropractic care is a great place to start if you child develops scoliosis. If your child is starting to develop Scoliosis please contact our Fairfax Chiropractic Office for a comprehensive and detailed examination that will get your child on the right track.