If you’ve recently found out you have scoliosis, your mind is working overtime trying to find avenues of treatment. And since you’ve seen videos of chiropractors aligning a client’s spine and offering instant relief, you’re wondering, can a chiropractor fix scoliosis?
Chiropractors cannot straighten the spine completely. However, they can significantly improve spine curvature, disability rating, and pain through non-invasive and drug-free treatment plans.
Let’s take a deep dive into scoliosis, what it is, and how a chiropractor can help.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical condition that affects the spine, where a sideways curve develops. It is characterized by an S-shaped or C-shaped curve in the spine, which can cause pain, discomfort, and even difficulty breathing in severe cases. It can develop at any age, but it’s more common in the early teenage years.
Below are the two broad categories of scoliosis with different treatment protocols.
Structural scoliosis is caused by bone shapes. Some bones may wedge themselves on the vertebrae’s side, causing it to curve. As one grows, the condition worsens, and one might need spinal surgery. Chiropractic procedures do not work on this form of scoliosis since they will not alter the shape of bones.
However, a Prohealth Chiropractic Wellness Center chiropractor can help ease symptoms like pain by increasing the range of motion and movement.
These are tiny curves on the spine that don’t involve rib cage deformities. They are self-limiting and benign and respond to treatment well, leaving behind minimal (if any) structural damage. Many individuals with scoliosis (functional) have developed it over years of indulging in asymmetrical activities like:
- Driving a manual transmission on a truck or machine where they use a heavy clutch repeatedly over the years
- Working a line where the activity involves movement of one side to the other
- Playing a sport heavily reliant on one side of your body, like tennis or Golf.
The sub-types of functional scoliosis include:
- Short leg scoliosis – in this type, one leg is shorter than the other resulting in a tipped pelvis. It’s easily corrected with a pelvic adjustment
- Acute antalgic scoliosis – develops as a result of an injured disc causing the patient to lean to one side to avoid scoliosis pain. Treating the source of pain and realigning the spine solves the problem.
- Postural scoliosis – the spinal curvature in the vertebrae is caused by children’s instability and bad posture when growing. It can resolve as the child gets stable and better posture. Overall, it responds well to chiropractic care.
Other types of scoliosis by cause include:
- Idiopathic scoliosis – this is the most common and without a known cause
- Neuromuscular scoliosis – this type is caused by a neuromuscular condition like polio, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and cerebral palsy
- Congenital scoliosis – it’s present at birth and develops when the baby’s spine and ribs don’t form properly.
Sometimes scoliosis doesn’t have symptoms. As such, it might go undetected for a long time leading to complications including:
- Shoulder and Back pain
- Muscle spasms in your back
- Uneven shoulders and hips
- Difficulty breathing
- Nerve damage
- Leaking spinal fluid
Can you reverse scoliosis with chiropractic treatment?
Chiropractic adjustments won’t reverse structural scoliosis in adults, but they can provide relief from pain, offering a better quality of life. Spinal manipulation to loosen the vertebrae and stretching your back muscles will ease lower back pain. However, the degree of curvature still isn’t reversed.
Chiropractic treatment of scoliosis
Some treatment techniques chiropractors use to treat scoliosis include:
Chiropractic adjustments (without a brace)
Chiropractic adjustments alone are effective and safe to treat a small functional scoliosis curve between
10 and 20 degrees when the patient has stopped growing. However, this regimen alone shouldn’t be used on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with a growing spine and a Cobb angle over 25 degrees.
Scoliosis-specific therapy (braceless and includes traction and exercises)
There has been some success in reducing structural scoliosis without using braces for scoliosis cases past the peak adolescent growth phase (or towards the end).
Aside from skeletal maturity in individuals, there have been reports showing success in some characteristics, including:
- Low thoracic apex – when the curve’s apex is below the bulk of the rigid rib cage, the spine is more flexible
- Translational – when the upper body significantly shifts to one side, and the pelvis moves to the opposite side, centering the body over the pelvis will reduce scoliosis.
- C-curves rather than S-curves – reports show that scoliosis patients with S-curves don’t respond well to brace-less treatments.
Brace-based therapy has proven efficient on scoliosis curves between 20 and 25 degrees in growing individuals. Research has been done on bracing alone and bracing paired with exercises, and both showed promise.
Generally, the more corrective a brace and the longer a child wears it, the better the corrective results.
Is massage good for scoliosis?
Massage for scoliosis doesn’t reverse or stop the progression of the scoliotic curve, but it helps manage the pain. A deep tissue massage combined with neuromuscular therapy and stretching increases blood flow to your back, consequently reducing pain.
Swedish, sports, and cranial-sacral therapy can also be helpful.
Scoliosis treatment at ProHealth Chiropractic Wellness Center
Like diabetes and high blood pressure, scoliosis has no cure, only management. Luckily, Chiropractic care has come a long way on this front and is now more efficient and safer. Combining chiropractic care, rehabilitation, therapy, and corrective bracing yields better results.
To reap these benefits, your chiropractor should be skilled and experienced in handling scoliosis treatments successfully. People with scoliosis looking to take a conservative approach to treatment should consider spinal adjustments from the Rockville chiropractors at ProHealth Chiropractic Wellness Center.
Call us today to see how scoliosis-specific chiropractic treatment can help you (301) 231-6550.