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What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis x-ray film

One of the most common problems with the spine is a condition called scoliosis. Scoliosis usually develops as children go through puberty even though it can develop at other times of life as well. It refers to a curvature of the spine. Most of the time, scoliosis is mild and does not develop any further. However, severe cases can lead to a deformity in the spinal cord and a loss of ability or even damage to surrounding organs.

Doctors are not sure exactly what causes scoliosis. Genetic components appear to play at least some part. However, other developmental or neuromuscular conditions may affect the development of scoliosis. The condition may also be caused by an injury to the spinal cord.

While it is not life-threatening, scoliosis can cause a host of health issues or even disability. For this reason, it is incredibly important to receive prompt and professional treatment.

How Do I Know If I Have Scoliosis?

Adult scoliosis is not common. If you have already passed your teenage years, the chances are that you no longer are at risk for scoliosis. However, it can sometimes develop in adults as well as teens and pre-teens.

The signs of scoliosis generally are some amount of unevenness in the body. This might mean carrying one shoulder or hip higher than the other or having a more prominent clavicle on one side. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or in your child, make an appointment with your doctor.

If they think that your symptoms are a cause for concern, they will evaluate you for scoliosis.

How Is Scoliosis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing scoliosis may be a little bit more complicated than you expect. Your doctor will ask you to bend at the waist, hanging your arm at your sides. This lets them see if there are any uneven spots in your back, such as ribs that stand out. They may also run an X-ray to do an interior visual assessment.

Scoliosis can be related to other conditions, so your doctor might check for those as well. For example, a tumor growing in the abdominal cavity can push the spine out of alignment. Similarly, scoliosis can be related to certain neurological conditions, so they may also assess for those. However, suspecting scoliosis does not immediately mean you have another more serious condition.

How Is Scoliosis Treated?

There are a number of treatments for scoliosis. Your recommended course of treatment will depend on the severity of your condition as well as other factors. If the curves in your spine are advanced or very large, more invasive treatment may be necessary. The location of the curves can also be of note. For example, curves in the thoracic vertebrae are more likely to become more serious as time goes on.

Children who have scoliosis may be fitted with a back brace. This may be a good choice if their condition is not too far advanced. Back braces are not a good choice for adults diagnosed with scoliosis. This is because back braces require softer bones that are still growing to shape them effectively. It is important to note, however, that back braces do not “cure” scoliosis. They simply stop the advancement of the condition.

Chiropractic Care and Scoliosis

If you visit a chiropractor regularly, they may be the first to notice misalignments or awkward angles in your spine and torso. If your chiropractor says they think you may have scoliosis, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your family doctor as well. The best plan of care is having both a chiropractor and doctor working together. Fletcher Chiropractic offers many care options outside of spine adjustment that can help with the discomfort caused by scoliosis. If you worry you may have scoliosis or know you have it but struggle with the pain it causes, come find out what Dr. Kadi and Dr. Curtis Fletcher can do to help manage your discomfort or pain.