Scoliosis and Spinal Curves Explained!
By Dr. Barbara Rodwin
Scoliosis or a spinal curve is a sideways curve of the spine that causes stiffness and pain. Scoliosis is more common in females and often begins in childhood. Spinal curves are just as common in both males and females. If it is detected early, both scoliosis and spinal curve treatment will prevent it from worsening over time.What is SCOLIOSIS? Scoliosis is derived from the Greek term meaning curvature. People with scoliosis have a sideways curve in their spine that makes an “S” or “C” shape. The vertebrae can rotate at the thoracic (mid-back) level of the spine causing this curve and resulting in a hump near the rib cage. If the curve is more than 60 degrees it is considered serious. Usually this curve makes the waist or shoulders uneven. And unlike with the normal curvature of the spine, adjusting your posture will not correct the problem.
What are SPINAL CURVES? Normally when the spine is viewed from behind it should be vertical. A spinal curve would be a deviation from the mid-line, often what occurs is an S-shape. This is a C-shape curve in the upper back and a C-shape curve in the lower back which when combining these 2-C curves this makes an S-shape. A spinal curve when evaluated is a curve less than 15 degrees.As you age, if you have either Scoliosis or a spinal curve, and it is not corrected there will be more pressure on the discs, spine and muscles. If there is no treatment you may also develop scar tissue in these muscles!
In some instances, degenerative diseases of the spine can cause spinal curves or scoliosis. One of those degenerative diseases is Osteoporosis. This is when the bones actually soften and usually occurs in older people. This softening can cause the vertebrae to bend and shape the curve causing a spinal curve, scoliosis or kyphosis (increased rounding in the mid-back). If not treated properly, severe back pain, deformity, and difficulty breathing can be some symptoms that will arise.
If you have a spinal curve or scoliosis it can lead to arthritis in the back later in life if it is not taken care of!
Treatments for Spinal Curves or Scoliosis
When someone is diagnosed with a spinal curve or scoliosis often several types of treatments are required to aid in resolving the causes of the spinal curve. The treatments for this curve are dependent on the extent of the abnormal curve in the spine. Treatments can range from: Chiropractic for the spinal curve or scoliosis , Active Release Technique for the muscles adhesions/ scar tissue, massage, postural advice, stretches for the shortened muscle side, strengthening for the weakened muscle side, and sometimes bracing is needed during the spinal alignment phase. In some severe cases surgery is required.
Chiropractic Care for a Spinal Curve or Scoliosis
Chiropractic care can help improve this condition. A chiropractor looks at your overall health examining your spine as well as other factors of your lifestyle. To help identify the problem’s cause, Dr. Barbara Rodwin will discuss symptoms and previous injuries, your family’s health history, and recreational and work-related activities. Palpation, orthopedic, and neurological tests will be performed as well as x-rays may be ordered to determine the extent.Most exams for a spinal curve or scoliosis include the Adam’s Forward Bending Test. It requires the person to bend at the waist as someone views the spinal alignment. If there is an abnormal prominence or hump you should look into treatment. Dr. Rodwin will measure the length of the legs to determine unevenness, perform a range of motion test that measures the degree to which the patient has mobility at the waist, and orthopedic, muscle and vertebral joint testing. If needed, Dr. Rodwin will refer you to a specialist for further treatment.Regular visits to your chiropractor, to observe the progression of a spinal curve or scoliosis, are an integral part of living a full and happy life. A Spinal Curve or Scoliosis can be treated in various ways to help alleviate pain and restore normal functionality. Advice is given for postural changes, stretches are given to stretch the shortened side and strengthening exercises are given to aid in restoring the curve.
Signs of a Spinal Curve or Scoliosis
1. Uneven shoulders
2. One side of the chest/abdomen being bigger
3. One hip is higher than the other
4. If you hem one pant leg higher than the other
5. One side of the ribs are rotated
6. Uneven musculature on one side of the spine.
7. Tightness on one side of the body: in the neck, shoulder, upper back, lower back, hip or lower leg.
8. Neck, back, shoulder, hip, knee foot discomfort/pain/stiffness
9. Flat feet