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Scoliosis

April 23, 2013 - Dr. Greg Walsh
Many public schools offer spinal screenings to identify the presence of scoliosis, a condition where a left or right curve has emerged in an otherwise straight portion of the spine. The most commonly used test to identify scoliosis is something called an Adam’s test and it involves the patient bending forward to touch their toes. If a “hump” is present on the left or right side of the back, the test is positive for scoliosis.

The test is not ideal for several reasons. The condition mostly affects the middle of the spine but there are many cases of low back or neck scoliosis that may not create the humplike effect over the ribs during testing. Also, the severity of the scoliosis would have to be close to 30 degrees to create a noticeable hump in the ribcage. This may seem insignificant, but many medical doctors recommend braces for scoliosis patients starting at 25 degrees.

Is scoliosis a rare condition? It depends on the age of the patient. For children, roughly 5% of the population suffers from some degree of scoliosis. For adults over sixty, that number balloons up to 68%. The best method to identify the presence of scoliosis is to consult your chiropractor or medical practitioner for an exam. If they do suspect that scoliosis is present, an x-ray may be in order to determine the severity so that the doctor can recommend the correct course of treatment. As mentioned earlier, many doctors monitor the curvature below 25 degrees, brace the area above 25 degrees and recommend surgery if the curve is above 40 degrees. Even with these treatments, there is no guarantee that the scoliosis will be corrected, or even reduced in severity.

As a chiropractor, I approach scoliosis cases from the viewpoint of creating good alignment between each individual segments rather than treat the entire curve as a whole. My goal is usually to reduce the amount of stress on the muscles and vertebral segments while creating better nerve flow. To compliment chiropractic adjustments, a physical therapy regiment helps a patient to strengthen the area and work to reduce postural stress.

There have been many studies involving chiropractic treatment on scoliosis yet they have presented various results. It seems for every case noting a miraculous recovery, there is another that has had no effect at all on the degree of severity. However, I strongly encourage patients to start out with the least invasive procedures (chiropractic and therapy) before attempting any surgical options.

For questions or comments, please email me at doctorgwalsh@gmail.com

 
 

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