Types of Scoliosis

Types of Scoliosis

If you haven’t figured out what this blog is then let me bring you up to date. The topic of discussion is Scoliosis. Mainstream medicine’s method of dealing with scoliosis is fairly standard. Based off of Mayo Clinic’s website advice for a diagnosed individual with scoliosis is :

  • Periodic checkups to monitor the progression of the curve up to 25 degrees.
  • Pass 25 degrees the patient may be placed in a brace to prevent progression of the curve(s).
  • If the unfortunate circumstance of a 40-degree curve becomes a reality, then a surgical consultation is warranted.

These are the recommendations for children diagnosed with the condition until they achieve skeletal maturity. The recommendations will be capped with the “there is no scientific basis” that exercises or chiropractic will reduce curve progression.

Up to 20,000 Harrington Rod implantations, surgeries are performed every year to treat the disease of scoliosis, representing 2.4 billion dollars in medical expenses annually, for a medical procedure that can only be described as the most archaic form of current medical interventions, and has a dubious success rate to boot. Of all the energy that has been poured into finding cures to the various illnesses humanity confronts daily, it seems that scoliosis has been inexcusably neglected throughout time. Some of the brave souls in the healing arts have chosen to look conventional wisdom in the face and take fate into their own hands. If you are reading this then you most likely are that someone or know someone. So what are you waiting for?

Many chiropractic and non-main stream medicine treatments are available. These rapidly growing options are providing hope to those that wish to avoid scoliosis surgery.

Your question most likely is “Can this treatment help the scoliosis I have?”

Let’s dive into the different types of scoliosis. The different types are mentioned a majority of the time without educating the individual or family members.  Today I’ll be discussing Idiopathic Scoliosis including Infantile, Juvenile, Adolescent and Congenital scoliosis.

Idiopathic Scoliosis:

This is the most common form of lateral spinal deviation, accounting for up to 80 percent of scoliosis. Many patients always ask “What causes this?” There is really no known cause that is 100 percent absolute. Many factors have been implicated. These include connective tissue disease, diet, enzymes, muscular imbalance, vestibular dysfunction, traumatic birth, serious accident, and inheritance. Patients with scoliosis can have associated osteopenia while the intervertebral discs remain immature.

Of all causes, an inherited genetic defect appears to play a significant role with up to 30 percent of patients having another family member with significant scoliosis. A positive family history does not translate into worse curves or progressive curves. The age of onset distinctively occurs within the growth period and allows for an age-based classification-infantile, juvenile, and adolescent.

Infantile idiopathic Scoliosis

  • Occurs between birth and three years of age.
  • May not progress after three years of age.
  • Rare in the United States of America.
  • More common in males
  • Usually a left convex thoracic curve.

Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis

  • Occurs between three and ten years of age.
  • Female gender predominance of 4 to 1.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

  • Curvature develops between age of ten and skeletal maturity
  • Most common type of idiopathic scoliosis.
  • Females are predominantly affected, with a ratio of 9 to 1 over males.
  • Period of progression is between 12 and 16.
  • Progression of the curvature slows to 5 to 15 degrees, except for women during and after menopause.
  • Ten times greater incidence of congenital heart disease when the idiopathic curve is more than 20 degrees.

CONGENITAL SCOLIOSIS

Congenital scoliosis is distinguished by anomalies of the vertebrae or ribs. The most frequently observed anomalies include hemivertebrae, block vertebrae, spina bifida, bridging vertebral bars, joint deformities, the fusion of ribs and other rib malformations. This curve is typically a short “C” curve and may be rapidly progressive in the growing years. Occasionally, anterior vertebral body defects may cause superimposed  kyphosis (kyphoscoliosis). There is a frequent association in congenital scoliosis with anomalies of the genitourinary system.

Radiological Assessment

The radiologic examination is the most definitive and important diagnostic tool in the assessment and management of the patient with scoliosis. A number of non-radiologic methods, such as moire contourography and back contour devices, have been employed. The role of the radiograph is multiple:

Determining etiology
  • Evaluating curvature
    • Including site
    • Magnitude
    • Flexibility
  • Assessing bone maturity
  • Monitoring progression or regression
  • Aiding in the selection of appropriate treatment
  • A wide variety of factors is involved in the process of obtaining practical clinical information while avoiding unnecessary radiation exposure.

After All, This Can I Be Helped?

Yes!

Contact Corrective Chiropractic of Greenville NC TODAY!

 

 

Importance of Structure

This entry is a repeat of previous posts about the importance of correcting the spinal structure. The frustrating issue for me is the continued lack of proper education to the chiropractic community. It all falls on the chiropractor spending hundreds and thousands of dollars and hours on training outside of the doctorate.

It is theorized that chiropractic adjustments for symptomatic care only for scoliosis may further increase the Cobb angle. This detrimental effect on scoliosis by mobilizing compensated fixated stabilizing spinal units is taught in most chiropractic colleges.

The medical model is much worse, beginning with observation, followed by bracing and then surgery. Surgery tends to lead to permanent disability, and bracing has been known to cause psychological and functional disability.

Bracing and surgery fail because they do not address the cause of the problem. In order to correct scoliosis, the normal cervical and lumbar lordosis must be re-established first.

Typically, scoliosis begins with the loss of the cervical and/or lumbar lordosis. The head is usually jutted out from the body looking much like a goose neck. This is labeled with ‘forward head posture’ or ‘anterior head syndrome’.

In normal spinal biomechanics, the body will compensate for the head sticking out from the body in order to survive. Normal biomechanics the head is over the shoulders, primarily the ear would be directly over the shoulder when viewed from the left or right side.

With a ‘goose neck’ and loss of spinal lordosis, this creates abnormal stress on the spinal cord.

Once the Cobb angle is above 30 degrees, normal spinal biomechanics no longer are applicable.

Without correction of the cervical and lumbar lordosis, correction of the scoliosis is not possible.

In order to correct scoliosis, the normal cervical and lumbar lordosis must be re-established, it is then possible to correct the scoliosis. Re-establishment of the normal curves reduces adverse tension on the spinal cord and then allows the Cobb angle(s) to correct.

Whole Body Vibration Therapy has been shown to be effective in working with the scoliotic patient. The vibration overrides the proprioceptive system of the body, allowing for quicker alignment.

Find the structural abnormalities and make the correction.

Dietary Recommendations for Scoliosis Patients

CLEAR Scoliosis Center

 

Dietary Recommendations for Scoliosis Patients:

 

Most people with scoliosis already are aware and know that gaining a few pounds even if it’s just 2-3lbs can cause undue stress on their already stressed spine. What few individuals are aware that not eating the right foods or filling themselves with just processed or restaurant foods only will cause the same amount of stress even if they’re not gaining any weight.

  • Foods To Eat:
    • Fresh Fruit
    • Fresh Vegetables
    • Meat (protein) – no pork or packaged luncheon meats

 

 

  • Decrease:
    • Citrus fruits and juices, especially orange juice and other acidic juices

 

 

  • Avoid:
    • Sodas, Colas (cokes)
    • high fructose corn syrup
    • corn syrup
    • coffee
    • tea
    • alcohol
    • milk chocolate
    • sugar and all artificial sweeteners (this means no aspartame, sweet and low, splenda, equal, nutrisweet, phenylalanine, BHT (Stevia is permissible))
    • White flour
    • processed foods
    • greasy fried foods
    • table salt (sea salt is permissible)
    • junk food, French fries, McDonalds, etc…

 

  • Supplements
    • Calcium w/ Magnesium
    • Digestive Enzymes
    • Omega 3
    • Melatonin (PRN) – for difficulty sleeping
    • Seek out whole food supplements like that of Standard Process.

 

Changing what you eat not necessarily how much you eat may make the world of difference for your pain with scoliosis.

 

Scoliosis Article

 

Scoliosis affects 5 to 7 million people in the United States. More than a half million visits are made to doctors’ offices each year for evaluation and treatment of scoliosis. Although scoliosis can begin at any age, it most often develops in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 15. Girls are more commonly affected than boys. Because scoliosis can be inherited, children whose parents or siblings are affected by it should definitely be evaluated by a trained professional.
What is scoliosis?
Because we walk on 2 feet, the human nervous system constantly works through reflexes and postural control to keep our spine in a straight line from side to side. Occasionally, a lateral (sideways) curvature develops. If the curvature is larger than 10 degrees, it is called scoliosis.
Curves less than 10 degrees are often just postural changes. Scoliosis can also be accompanied by lordosis (abnormal curvature toward the front) or kyphosis (abnormal curvature toward the back). In most cases, the vertebrae are also rotated. In more than 80% of cases, the cause of scoliotic curvatures is unknown; we call this condition idiopathic scoliosis. In other cases, trauma, neurological disease, tumors, and the like are responsible. Functional scoliosis is often caused by some postural problem, muscle spasm, or leg-length inequality, which can often be addressed. Structural scoliosis does not reduce with postural maneuvers. Either type can be idiopathic or have an underlying cause.
What are the symptoms of scoliosis?
Scoliosis can significantly affect the quality of life by limiting activity, causing pain, reducing lung function, or affecting heart function. Diminished self-esteem and other psychological problems are also seen. Because scoliosis occurs most commonly during adolescence, teens with extreme spinal deviations from the norm are often teased by their peers.
Fortunately, 4 out of 5 people with scoliosis have curves of less than 20 degrees, which are usually not detectable to the untrained eye. These small curves are typically no cause for great concern, provided there are no signs of further progression. In growing children and adolescents, however, mild curvatures can worsen quite rapidly—by 10 degrees or more—in a few months. Therefore, frequent checkups are often necessary for this age group.
How is scoliosis evaluated?
Evaluation begins with a thorough history and physical examination, including postural analysis. If a scoliotic curvature is discovered, a more in-depth evaluation is needed. This might include a search for birth defects, trauma, and other factors that can cause structural curves.
Patients with substantial spinal curvatures very often require an x-ray evaluation of the spine. The procedure helps determine the location and magnitude of scoliosis, along with an underlying cause not evident on physical examination, other associated curvatures, and the health of other organ systems that might be affected by scoliosis. In addition, x-rays of the wrist are often performed. These films help determine the skeletal age of the person, to see if it matches an accepted standard, which helps the doctor determine the likelihood of progression. Depending on the scoliosis severity, x-rays may need to be repeated as often as every 3 to 4 months to as little as once every few years.
Other tests, including evaluation by a Scoliometer™, might also be ordered by the doctor. This device measures the size, by angle, of the rib hump associated with scoliosis. It is non-invasive, painless, and requires no special procedures. A Scoliometer™ is best used as a guide concerning progression in a person with a known scoliosis—not as a screening device.
Is scoliosis always progressive?
Generally, it is not. In fact, the vast majority of scoliosis remains mild, is not progressive, and requires little treatment, if any.
In one group of patients, however, scoliosis is often more progressive. This group is made up of young girls who have scoliosis of 25 degrees or larger, but who have not yet had their first menstrual period. Girls generally grow quite quickly during the 12 months before their first period and if they have scoliosis, the curvatures tend to progress rapidly. In girls who have already had their first periods, the rate of growth is slower, so their curves tend to progress more slowly.
What is the treatment for scoliosis?
There are generally 3 treatment options for scoliosis—careful observation, bracing, and surgery. Careful observation is the most common “treatment,” as most mild scoliosis do not progress and cause few, if any, physical problems. Bracing is generally reserved for children who have not reached skeletal maturity (the time when the skeleton stops growing), and who have curves between 25 and 45 degrees. Surgery is generally used in the few cases where the curves are greater than 45 degrees and progressive, and/or when scoliosis may affect the function of the heart, lungs, or other vital organs.
Spinal manipulation, therapeutic exercise, and electrical muscle stimulation have also been advocated in the treatment of scoliosis. None of these therapies alone has been shown to consistently reduce scoliosis or to make the curvatures worse. For patients with back pain along with scoliosis, manipulation and exercise may be of help.
Most people with scoliosis lead normal, happy, and productive lives. Physical activity including exercise is generally well-tolerated and should be encouraged in most cases.

The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for a diagnosis by a specialist. For specific information concerning your health condition, consult your doctor of chiropractic. This page may be reproduced noncommercially by doctors of chiropractic and other healthcare professionals to educate patients. Any other reproduction is subject to ACA approval.

Can I Expect Improvement With Corrective Chiropractic Greenville NC?

There are cases of scoliosis which may be traced to congenital defects, disease (such as polio), the growth of a tumor along the spinal column, or other factors.  These cases must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if structural chiropractic & rehabilitation protocols will be able to achieve success.  At Corrective Chiropractic we perform a full examination prior to beginning treatment to determine if our protocols will be beneficial.

If underlying pathology is found (such as a tumor near the spine, which causes the spine to bend away from it), we will recommend the appropriate surgical procedure, and provide recommendations to surgeons for you.  Corrective Chiropractic’s first prerogative is to do what is best for the patient.  We believe the majority of scoliosis patients can be helped using our methods; however, if this is not the case, we will provide all possible assistance to help you determine what method will work best in your particular case.

Your degree of improvement is dependent upon your degree of participation!  It takes time to change the course of a disease, especially a disease that is intimately involved with the neuro-muscular system, such as scoliosis.  Your body has fallen into an abnormal pattern of biomechanics & functioning that must be “deleted” and replaced with a new “program.”  This cannot happen overnight, and it takes constant & consistent repetition to encourage your body to adopt a new way of functioning.

With these facts in mind, there is no reason not to expect correction in a patient who follows all of the doctor’s recommendations, keeps their appointments, uses the Scoliosis Denneroll™ Traction devices on a daily basis, and does their home exercises every day.  It will take a long time; remember, we are not just moving the bones of the spine; we are also rehabilitating the ligaments, muscles, and the nervous system.  If you do not keep your appointments, if you do not you’re your doctor’s instructions, and you do not comply with your home exercise regimen, your scoliosis will NOT improve, and it WILL get worse over time.  If your spine demonstrates good flexibility and your scoliosis developed recently, it is not unreasonable to expect 5 to 15% change with in the care plan provided.  If your spine is more rigid or you have lived with scoliosis for decades, it can take considerably longer.

Also, it is important to consider when you begin treatment that your doctor does not immediately begin reducing the scoliosis.  The first few visits are focused on reducing the inertia of the disease and halting its progression (remember, the medical model considers a change of zero degrees – stabilization – to be a success!).  It is only after the course of the scoliosis has been arrested and reversed that the Cobb angle will begin to reduce.

Procedures such as weighted stress x-rays can determine early on if the prescribed treatment plan will be effective.  Additional examination tools such as a scoliometer and standardized photographs taken on a posture grid help to measure improvement quickly and without the need for excessive x-rays.  A re-exam is performed on the 12th visit, and a medical scoliosis x-ray is taken at this time which will verify improvement objectively.

The cause of scoliosis is not an imbalance in muscle strength.  If this were the cause, exercises alone would be enough to correct it.  The cause of scoliosis is controversial, but we believe that it has to do with a miscommunication in the nerves running between the brain and the body that regulate posture & symmetry during growth.  Until this miscommunication is corrected, the body cannot remove the scoliosis.

 

 

 

One of Many Exercises for Scoliosis Patients

Scoliosis is 3-dimensional.  If you only look at the sideways curvature, you are missing the big picture, because compression and rotation of the spinal column are also involved.  Similarly, walking is a 3-dimensional process – it is not simply moving forward.  In the normal pattern of walking, there is a twisting of the shoulders and a simultaneous counter rotation in the hips.  The head must yaw (bend slightly to the left and right) to compensate for this motion and keep the eyes level.

In patients with scoliosis, this normal pattern is absent.

The hips and shoulders do not rotate opposite each other, and the head does not move.

The main righting reflex of the body is the eyes; if the head is not moving to keep the eyes level, it suggests that scoliosis may create problems with balancing.

Recent scientific articles have begun to explore the role of gait (walking) and how the body balances itself while it is moving in patients with scoliosis. These studies have proven that there are differences in how people with scoliosis walk and move, compared to people without scoliosis.  After a while, the brain develops a pattern to help the body balance.

Further research supports this conclusion; scoliosis patients tend to have a more difficult time balancing, on average, than non-scoliosis patients.  Typically, scoliosis patients must slow down their walking speed, and stiffen their upper spine significantly, to maintain their balance when walking.

Restoring normal patterns of movement in scoliosis patients is more difficult than one might suspect.  You cannot simply tell someone to walk differently; the brain creates a pattern, and it falls into this pattern automatically, even when the biomechanics of the spine are altered.  When the body falls into this old pattern, it can re-enforce imbalances in the muscles, and cause the spine to shift back to its old position.

In order to prevent this, we must “reprogram” the brain.

Whole Body Vibration therapy is very effective in “erasing” the old pattern; the second step is programming a new pattern.

This is the purpose of a walking exercise similar to walking a Tightrope.  Walking along a narrow line very slowly forces the brain to focus very carefully on balancing, and increases the speed at which this “reprogramming” can be done.  Spinal weights change the biomechanics of the spine, and allow new patterns to be learned.

As mentioned before, the eyes are the primary righting reflex of the body, so the way your entire body balances itself is changed (so not only do we have a new way of looking at scoliosis treatment, we also treat scoliosis with a new way to look!).

Take Charge of Your Own Health!

The beauty and appeal of healthcare programs such as chiropractic is that it puts the power over your health back into your own hands.  Learning about your spinal structure can give you an understanding of how to care for your spine and maintain your health & mobility.

By viewing yourself from a picture or in front of a mirror you find that your left shoulder is higher than your right. Something you may want to consider is it might not be a good idea to rest your arm on the car window while driving.  If your right hip is higher than the left, only cross your left leg over your right, never vice versa.  Does your neck feel sore after working on the computer?  Try raising the bottom of your monitor to eye level to help keep the curve in your neck, and sit on the edge of your chair to keep the curve in your low back.

Also, you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day (for example, a 160-pound person should drink ten 8-ounce cups of water).

Not soda, coffee, fruit juice, or sports drinks – WATER!

The discs that cushion the bones of your spine are 88% water.  If your body is dehydrated, the discs are the first to suffer.  Once the discs lose their ability to cushion the spine from the stresses of gravity, your posture will begin to deteriorate much more rapidly, and the nerves that run from your spinal cord to every single cell in your body will lose their ability to keep those cells healthy.

Why then is this important to scoliosis patients? The question should be what isn’t important to scoliosis patients? Answer: Everything is important and plays a more vital role than someone without scoliosis.

We have a lot to learn about Scoliosis and Nutrition.  Positive results have come from several chiropractors that have focused more on an alkaline diet, as well as finding out metabolic typing. There is not a great deal of study and double blind studies on the topic so a lot of the information is from very few cases among several chiropractors that I have the opportunity to discuss with.

I agree that there is a magnesium depletion and studies have shown calcium in the tissue instead of the bone.  We provide patients with whole food supplements from Standard Process™ that help to build up proper calcium and magnesium. I recommend some MediHerb™ options as well to aid in digestion and sleep. The amount of issues that scoliosis can have on the organs is just not measured but is evident in the lives of our current patients. Anything that aids them in functioning better is my number one concern.

I encourage a natural, organic diet.

Over the last few years I have concentrated on the nutritional and biochemical reasoning for scoliosis. Initially I had my patient’s just on one supplement for joint support with my patients and found that it supported the movement 2 – 5% improvement over previous patients. When I started encouraging scoliosis patients to a 80% alkaline (veg) and 20% acid diet along with feeding them more Standard Process™ whole food supplements to support mineral deficiencies, there was a 10 – 15% increase in correction in those who followed my dietary and supplement recommendations. My rate of reduction is on average a 10% change in a scoliosis cobb angle and with an overall 25% change in one treatment plan I would hope to see that change more with the proper nutrition and more consistent chiropractic care.

I am well aware that one diet fits all approach does not work for everyone, this is why metabolic typing takes into account scoliosis patient’s autonomic system and oxidative rates.  I utilize saliva and hair mineral analysis to dial in the necessary supplements and foods to use and avoid.  I have seen consistencies, a relative deficiency of magnesium as compared to calcium which tended to be on the high range.

This is just the scratch of the surface but at Corrective Chiropractic Greenville NC our focus is on the details for our patients!

 

 

 

CORE Muscles Provide Spinal Stability!

Most exercises, such as the ones typically performed in a health gym, do not work the core muscles.

“Isotonic” means with motion.  Isotonic exercises, such as lifting weights, do not affect the core muscles responsible for improving your posture.

“Isometric” means without motion.  Isometric exercises are performed against resistance, and affect the postural muscles.

Studies show it takes 12 weeks to develop muscle physiology.

The spinal exercises that Corrective Chiropractic of Greenville NC customize them for your individual x-rays and posture.

Dr. Bret Wickstrom incorporates both positive and negative muscle exercising.

 

Spinal Twist & Spinal Molding

The discs of the spine have hydrogel properties that will change from a liquid to a gel state depending upon the core temperature – much like Jell-O™!  By taking advantage of this amazing ability of our spinal discs to “mold” the proper ‘S’ curves (lateral view) of your spine into place.

By performing the spinal twist and combining it with spinal molding this recipe is like hitting the “RESET” button for your spine.  The stress of gravity on your muscles is shifted back to your spine where it belongs, decreasing neck and low back pain along with muscle soreness.

You must be under chiropractic supervision before performing this combination. Especially a structural chiropractor. To first have the correct medical equipment and thus be instructed to properly perform the twist if that indeed what your body is able to do based on your physical history. To raise your core temperature and liquefy the discs, perform the Spinal Twist exercise.  This gets the bones of your spine moving.  Motion creates friction, and friction creates heat!  After you are done performing the Spinal Twist, you will be able to place a hand on your back and feel the warmth radiating from your spine.

 

After you’ve performed the spinal twist it’s essential to lie down with spinal supports that are specifically prescribed for your spine. There are several combinations and spinal supports that a person could be prescribed so follow the directions of your chiropractor. Set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes, and relax!  It takes at least 20 minutes for the discs of your spine to cool and revert back to a gel state.

 

The blood supply to the spinal discs atrophies (dies) after puberty (this is why you never find young children with disc problems).  The only way the discs stay healthy after this point is through motion; water & nutrients are pumped into the disc, and waste is pumped out, when you perform the Spinal Twist.  For optimal spinal health, these two exercises should be performed every morning right away when you wake up, and at night before you lie down to go to sleep. You need regular exams at a minimum annually (possibly more depending on your spinal shifts) to regulate how often you need to perform that particular spinal molding. Keep in mind that your teeth involves much more than just going to the dentist – likewise, good spinal health can only be maintained through caring for your spine everyday, on a regular basis.

 

If you are interrupted after doing the Spinal Twist and do not give your spine a chance to cool down while molding the curves in place, be very mindful of your posture for the next half-hour.  The curves will set in whatever position you maintain during this time.  This warning also applies after you exercise, work in the garden, etc.  If you allow your spine to cool down in an abnormal position, the result with be muscle tension, soreness & pain!

Advanced Spinal Molding

 

Your doctor may prescribe additional spinal blocks to be placed under your hips to correct abnormal rotation of the hips & pelvis and apparent leg length inequalities.  For example, if your right hip is rotated forward (anterior), your left hip will be back (posterior), and it will appear that your right leg is shorter.  Most of your weight will be distributed down your left leg, and this can result in extra wear & tear on your left hip, knee, and ankle.

 

Patients with a scoliosis may perform spinal molding with a support under the rib arch to assist in de-rotation.  This support should be placed parallel to the spine.

 

It is important not to exceed the 30 minute time limit on the Spinal Molding exercise, as this will place unnecessary tension upon the muscles.  If you feel muscle pain or soreness after performing Spinal Molding, place an ice pack on the affected area: exactly 10 minutes for the neck, 15 for the mid-back, or 20 for the low back.  This will reduce inflammation and pain.  The body will respond to the cold temperature by decreasing blood circulation to the area; removing the ice pack after a while will enhance this, and actually speed up healing by bringing oxygen and new blood cells to the area.  If the pain persists, continue the regimen of ice at alternating periods of 10-20 minutes on, sixty minutes off.  Do NOT use heat unless specifically instructed to do so; this may actually excite the nerves and increase pain, much like adding boiling water to a teapot brings it closer to boiling.

 

Please always talk to your chiropractor before performing any of the above items. Seeking a good structural chiropractor should be of the highest importance. We at Corrective Chiropractic of Greenville NC provide the latest and up to date information on structural care.

Beginning Steps to Understanding Chiropractic Care and Scoliosis

The etiology (cause) of scoliosis has never been thoroughly examined from a chiropractic perspective.  This is significant because, simply put, you will never find what you are not looking for.  The chiropractic approach to healthcare differs greatly from traditional mainstream medical care.  One of the basic premises of chiropractic philosophy is that the nervous system controls and coordinates the function of every cell in your body, and the root cause of many different diseases may be traced to a dysfunction in the nervous system.  The goal of chiropractic is to locate and remove the interference that is the cause.  Traditional medical philosophy is focused upon addressing the outward symptoms of the disease process.

As an example, consider a patient who walks in a clinic with a headache.  If he walks into a medical office, he is likely to be given a medication such as aspirin that will eliminate the pain.  However, the cause of the headache was not a shortage of aspirin in the body, and even though the symptom – pain – has been suppressed, the cause, and the headache, remains.  All that has changed is the patient’s ability to experience it.  If the headache persists despite the medication, the patient will be sent to a neurologist, who will search for a problem in the brain.

If the same patient walks into a chiropractor’s office, the chiropractor may look for the cause of the headache, not in the head, but in the neck.  There are muscles attached to the bones of the neck, through which blood vessels travel that supply the brain and scalp.  If the bones are out of place, these muscles will be tense, which pinches off the arteries.  As the blood flow to the brain & scalp decreases, the vessels constrict, and the flow of oxygen to the tissues is reduced.  The body interprets this lack of oxygen as pain.

By adjusting the bones of the neck, the chiropractor may be able to re-align them, causing the muscles to relax, which in turn restores normal blood flow to the head.  The headache will then disappear as the body’s function is restored through its own natural processes (homeostasis).

How does this relate to scoliosis?  Only chiropractors are trained to look for the source of a problem in the nerves that innervate (supply) the affected tissue.  If a patient has a problem with respiration & breathing, chiropractors may look to the neck.  Why?  In the neck there is a nerve, called the phrenic nerve, which supplies the primary muscle of inspiration – the diaphragm.  If there is a problem with digestion, this could be traced to the nerves that branch off from the spinal cord in the middle of your spine – these nerves are responsible for controlling how much acid is produced in your stomach and the involuntary muscular contractions of the intestines which move ingested food along the gastrointestinal tract.

Scoliosis could be viewed as a cumulative neurological imbalance in the nerves relating to posture & proprioception.  Removing interference from these nerves will restore normal function to the postural muscles.  The body will then be better able to address the symptoms of scoliosis (such as the lateral bending, measured in Cobb’s angle) with the aid of additional therapeutic exercises & rehabilitation protocols.  This is necessary to correct the imbalances in muscle strength, re-model the bones & discs of the spine which have deformed, and re-train the brain’s control over which muscles it prefers to use in walking, standing, and sitting – all of which develop over time in response to the development of scoliosis.  If these procedures are not performed by the patient, correcting the nervous interference alone will not be enough to correct the scoliosis.

As mentioned in the Introduction, there are atypical cases of scoliosis which may be traced to congenital defects, disease (such as polio), the growth of a tumor along the spinal column, or other factors.  These cases must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if chiropractic & rehabilitation protocols will be able to achieve success.  There are instances where chiropractic care will be ineffective or even contraindicated.

The description of the cause of scoliosis that will be outlined in the blogs to follow… relates specifically to cases of scoliosis that are non-pathological in origin (that is to say, the cause has not been traced to a disease or defect).  These cases of scoliosis are typically referred to as “idiopathic,” meaning of unknown origin.  The theory put forth in this document would like to suggest that the cause of idiopathic scoliosis is a combination of neurological and biomechanical factors.

New Scoliosis Treatment Protocols

I have been a practicing chiropractor for over six years here in Greenville, North Carolina. I have certifications in spinal biomechanics, nutrition, and spine rehabilitation accumulating over 200 post graduate hours of study in these fields. My practice philosophy has always been a corrective structural approach utilizing pre and post x-rays to determine care. With this type of structural care symptom reduction and functional improvements are seen when patients are consistent and follow the care recommendations.

The implementation of utilizing post x-rays is a personal choice because it’s the most logical point. If “your spine is your lifeline, poor spine function creates ill-health,” which is taught by many chiropractic colleges across the country, then it reasons that changing spinal structure and measuring it using post x-rays is the goal of care.

Structure dictates function! I have had the pleasure in witnessing many patients succeed in correcting structural alignment of their spine demonstrated by post x-ray.  Not only with reverse curves of the lordotic spine but with smaller scoliosis curvatures (under 30 degrees) have typically reduced nicely using standard chiropractic scoliosis protocols.

The most challenging cases for me in the past have been scoliosis curvatures over 30 degrees. For some unknown reason these curvature patterns did not respond well to my standard corrective procedures. I was only seeing a 5% reduction versus a 15 – 20% reduction average when measured with post treatment x-rays. The typical outcome with a scoliosis case over 30 degrees was generally limited to symptom reduction and some functional improvement. Correction or even stabilization of the larger scoliosis cases was rare. Accepting this outcome was not acceptable for me because most of my patients with larger scoliotic curvatures had to deal with progression and most likely the traditional medical intervention that would follow. If not properly reduced and stabilized, patients with scoliotic spines would have significant future health issues and a potentially reduced lifespan.

Traditional methods of scoliosis treatment like bracing or surgery come with significant drawbacks. According to published medical studies, bracing is not an effective long term solution for reducing or stabilizing scoliosis. In addition, the more commonly used hard braces are not user friendly, are extremely uncomfortable, limiting, and ugly. When a child is confined to one of these contraptions a normal childhood, unfortunately, is out of the question. Surgery on the other hand is invasive, traumatic, and creates permanent limitations along with a whole list of additional problems that didn’t exist prior to having the surgical rods fused to their spine. The flexible braces which promote more comfort and functionality, in my opinion, are a complete waste of time for scoliotic curves over 30 degrees. My inability to effectively correct, reduce, and stabilize scoliosis using non-traditional methods was simply not acceptable, therefore a new approach was definitely needed.

C.L.E.A.R. Institute™ and CBP™ have provided the means for me to accomplish with patients that are proactive with their at home rehab. When correcting scoliosis, one of the key strategies needed to consistently reduce and stabilize larger curves is the ability to apply traction properly. This is accomplished by several exercises, traction equipment in office and at home, along with the proper chiropractic treatment protocols. The other very important concept, which I have been using for years to reduce smaller curvatures, is to properly restore the normal cervical and lumbar “lordosis” (side view curves of the spine) prior to de-rotation. This clearly demonstrates why bracing and surgery are not effective long term solutions. Both fail to take into consideration these key biomechanical components of scoliosis.

This new scoliosis protocol also focuses on home exercise therapy to assist the doctor in correcting the muscle and ligament imbalances. The home care program is a vital component to long term success. In some cases a home scoliosis traction chair is prescribed. In addition patients have access to a mentorship program for scoliosis patients and educational materials to help understand this new approach.

The theories behind this program of scoliosis correction make sense and agree with the natural laws of spinal biomechanics. By first restoring the lordosis you are creating space and reducing adverse mechanical stress on the central nervous system. Then doctors can begin reducing the compensatory twisting effects created by the patient’s nervous system due to loss of lordosis, starting above and below the primary scoliotic curves. Last we can then gradually retrain the spine letting it feel what it’s like to be without the scoliosis by placing the patient in the specialized chair. Once the nervous system learns through repetition that the scoliosis is not necessary to protect the body it will then gradually correct and accept life without it.

Many patients with scoliotic curves over 30 degrees have seen reduction and stabilization of their scoliosis using this new protocol. In addition many patients experience symptom relief and measurable functional improvements as well. The program has been utilized with varying age groups with excellent clinical outcomes. There are very few problems with patient comfort and patient satisfaction has been consistently high. I will continue to research this disease in order to better serve patients with scoliosis. By continuing to develop new technology doctors can effectively provide a better, less invasive treatment option for patients with scoliosis.