What is scoliosis and how common is it?
Scoliosis is when the spine isn’t in the proper shape and curves. Instead of the spine being straight from the front, it is curved and rotated. While scoliosis is most commonly thought of a condition that affects children affecting 1-2 children out of 50, it is actually more common in adults affecting 1 out of 10 over 40, and 3 out of 10 over 60.
While it was previously thought that scoliosis didn’t progress once you were done growing, we now know that isn’t the case. Scoliosis continues to progress as we age believed to be due to the abnormal loading of the spine.
What are your treatment options for scoliosis?
Depending on the extent of the curve, there are 4 primary treatments-
- Exercises- these are scoliosis specific exercises that are created based on the curve. In specific patient populations
- Traction- This isn’t the typical stretching the spine, this is traction specific to scoliosis. For this, the body is placed in an “unwound” position and then force is applied to slowly stretch the ligaments and slow or correct or the progression of the curve.
- Bracing- While previous braces have been designed to brace the person in their deformity, new braces (the Scolibrace done here) are designed to correct the deformity and have shown great results. These braces function the same way as traction where they keep the body in the corrected position. Essentially this allows for a different kind of correction than before.
- Surgery- While not ideal, in some cases it is necessary. For curves not caught at the proper time and treated properly surgery is needed. In cases with scoliosis is the result of a known pathology, surgery can literally be lifesaving. If possible, its best to be avoid surgery by getting the right treatment at the right time for the right patient.
While there are other treatments that have been used for scoliosis (chiropractic adjustments alone, general physical therapy, massage, etc), these are the only treats shown to consistently treat scoliosis.
What about prevention?
Currently, it is not possible to prevent scoliosis or even say what causes the vast majority of cases. We do know that is has serious side effects. In adolescents it can not only cause pain but also a lowered self-image.
In adults aged 50-80 years, up to 40% with low back pain, leading some to believe it is a very under diagnosed cause of chronic low back pain. Depending on the extent of the curve and the growth factors of the individual (age, maturation, ect) treatment can be as a simple as a specific exercise regiment or may include bracing and traction.