Can a Chiropractor Help Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a complex diagnosis that typically requires a more integrative approach for proper management and treatment. With a team of spine experts on your team, you can get the best results. Seeking care from a chiropractor can be a vital part of a balanced approach to treating scoliosis. Chiropractors are experts in holistic spine health and are trained in a variety of modalities that can help optimize your spine health and your overall quality of life when dealing with scoliosis.
Can a chiropractor help scoliosis? The short answer is absolutely yes. Today, we will dive into the benefits of finding chiropractic care, particularly when it’s from a chiropractor that is specially trained to treat and manage a scoliosis diagnosis.
The Different Categories of Scoliosis
Scoliosis can be divided into different categories depending on the following factors:
- the causes
- the degrees of severity
- and the innate flexibility of the spine (whether it’s rigid or not)
Based on the cause of the spine deformity, there are three main categories:
- Idiopathic – meaning that the cause of the scoliosis is unknown. Most people fall under this category. It can be classified further by age: 0-3 years (infant), 4-10 years (juvenile), 11-18 years (adolescent), and 18+ years (adult).
- Congenital – the abnormality is present from birth.
- Neurological – scoliosis is formed because of a nerve dysfunction that affects muscle tension. The most common neurological disorders that can result in scoliosis are spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury.
Based on the degrees of severity, we can talk about the following categories:
- Mild curvature (10-24 degrees)
- Significant curvature (25-49 degrees)
- Severe curvature (from 50 degrees)
Usually, the degree of curvature is measured via a physical examination and medical imaging conducted by an orthopedic doctor or a chiropractor. Based on the flexibility of the spine, there are two main categories:
- Structural – due to a birth defect, injury, or chronic disease the curve is inflexible and permanently fixed.
- Non-structural – a flexible, temporary deformity caused by common health issues like bad ergonomics, injury, inflammation, muscle spasms, or a LLD (leg length discrepancies).
Can Scoliosis Be “Fixed”?
As we dive into treatment options surrounding traditional medical care and chiropractic care, it’s important to note that there isn’t a cure for scoliosis. Rather, it typically requires ongoing management and screening for the best possible outcomes. On a rare occasion, a very mild flexible spine curvature can be reversed on its own or with appropriate conservative care. Additionally, sometimes (also rare) the curvature of the spine can be reduced with treatment. However, these are not the norm.
Generally speaking, scoliosis care involves focusing on preventing further progression and keeping symptoms as manageable as possible, regardless of what treatment approach is used. With that being said, some approaches (like surgery and injections) are more invasive while others are conserative and holistic in nature. We will discuss this further below.
Scoliosis Specific Chiropractic
Having a deeper understanding of the unique challenges that scoliosis presents can be a game changer for your care. Yes, it is true that any chiropractic practitioner can provide professional adjustments and other necessary treatments that can have a positive impact on your spine. However, next level scoliosis care takes your specific needs and spine alignment into consideration to better address any underlying issues that are perpetuating your symptoms. When the specific root issues related to scoliosis are addressed with a chiropractic scoliosis expert, you can expect to get the most out of your treatment sessions for feeling your best.
Symmetry Health Center in Oakland and Alameda, CA is one of these clinics that provides specialized scoliosis treatment. In fact, they are one of the only clinics in California specialized in ScoliCare- a patented state of the art evidence based approach- for tackling mild to severe scoliosis in both adults and children alike. When needed, they utilize 3D spine imaging technology and bracing protocol (called the ScoliBrace) designed to maximize outcomes for achieving optimal spine symmetry and posture.
Treating Scoliosis Conservatively
When it comes to conservtive medical treatment, the focus is on symptom management, preventing progression of the spine’s curvature, and feeling empowered in your own life with scoliosis. There are a variety of treatment options that a holistic practitioner like a chiropractor can offer to help you in every stage of life. It’s always best to seek conservative care as soon as possible, rather than waiting until your symptoms are severe or surgery is recommended.
Unfortunately, if your primary mode of care is within the current traditional medical model, your treatment can look much different than the conservative approach. Usually traditional treatment goes something like the following in today’s medical world: See an orthopedic doctor for a diagnosis, get referred to a scoliosis surgeon, monitor symptoms and plan for an eventual spine fusion with rods and screws to manage the growing curvature. This very invasive approach can sometimes provide short term relief but can also lead to a whole variety of long term issues and discomfort related to the surgery. Additionally, it can leave the areas of the spine above and below the fusion vulnerable to even further long term damage.
Always Start Conservatively
Overall, when possible there are definitely advantages to managing your scoliosis as conservatively and holistically as possible. Chiropractic care takes a proactive approach to your spine health from day one, rather than taking the “wait and see” approach of the traditional model. When your symptoms and overall health are well-managed from the start, symptoms can stay mild to non-existent and you can continue doing the things you love.
What to Expect with Chiropractic Care for Scoliosis
Once you’ve found a chiropractic scoliosis expert that you can trust, it’s time to work closely with them to create a plan of care that you are happy with. If you have any specific concerns or needs, you can discuss this with your chiropractor to get the unique care you deserve. Typically, your chiropractor will help you with the following goals when creating a treatment plan.
- Curve reduction (when possible)
- Prevent progression and onset of unnecessary symptoms
- Maintain optimal spine health to avoid unnecessary degeneration
- Keep up with the activities that you love- whatever they may be
- Feel confident in your abilities to live life to the fullest
- Trust in a multi-faceted approach to maximize outcomes and help you live your healthiest life possible
- Avoid costly and invasive surgery
- Avoid reliance on addictive pain medication or muscle relaxers with nasty side effects for pain relief
Common Treatments Used for Scoliosis Care from a Chiropractor
How will your chiropractor achieve all of the great potential benefits listed above? Ultimately, this will depend on your spine and specific needs. However, here is a general review of what you can expect during your treatment sessions.
- Bracing. Chiropractors most often utilize dynamic bracing techniques that strive to provide “over-correction” of the spine in an attempt to restore as much symmetry as possible to the spine and trunk. Braces like the ScoliBrace are revolutionary in this respect, since they don’t restrict movement like traditional bulky and uncomfortable braces. Rather, they facilitate better spine range of motion and coordination with daily activities to maximize functional outcomes.
- Continued monitoring with x-rays as needed. Your chiropractor has access to the tools necessary to continually monitor your spine curvature via physical assessment, x-ray, and in-depth analysis as needed. This will ensure that you address any issues head on if and when they crop up, such as a curvature progression, spine degeneration, and more.
- Exercise training. Your practitioner will focus on giving you appropriate guidance in core and corrective spine exercise to retrain your brain and body to move optimally. This will help you utilize your body’s own muscle balance and movement to reinforce any curvature improvements you experience via adjustments and bracing. A big part of this equation will also be posture training to minimize time spent in detrimental positions. Being able to keep the spine in the best possible posture with daily positions is important for preserving spine health.
- Spine adjustments. Adjustments of a scoliotic spine will often look a lot different from adjustments that occur with traditional care. Your chiropractor will determine what is necessary for supporting your spine health. The goal is to maximize the mobility and alignment of your vertebrae with appropriate non-invasive techniques.
- Lifestyle and condition education. Knowledge is power for feeling confident in dealing effectively with your scoliosis diagnosis. Your chiropractor will keep you well informed about your condition to address any concerns and anxieties you may be harboring. Additionally, they can guide you in holistic life choices that will boost your overall health. This will typically include topics like weight loss, nutrition, stress management, sleep habits, and more.
- Pain management. Chiropractors are experts in helping manage symptoms of pain and stiffness holistically to minimize your dependence on options like medications. They can recommend options- for the clinic and at home- like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, light therapy, temperature therapy (hot or cold), massage, and more to help you feel your best.
Put Your Best Foot Forward with Scoliosis Specific Chiropractic Care
It should be pretty clear that chiropractic care can provide you with a ton of potential benefits. And all you need to do to get started is to find a specialist in your area like Symmetry Health Center in the Bay Area and give them a call to get scheduled for an initial assessment. A scoliosis center will give you a personalized program that makes all the difference in reaching your health and spine related goals
Symmetry Health Center focuses on using the modalities listed above, particularly the patented state of the art ScoliBrace that gently redirects the spine into a more optimal position. With this guidance, Dr. Cynthia Boyd and her specialized team have helped reduce and/or maintain their patient’s spine curves. This ultimately equates to fewer symptoms, less chance of disability, and a significantly lower risk for needing invasive treatment like surgery. The care they provide is truly life altering.
Whether you have just been diagnosed with scoliosis or have been managing it for years, get in touch with their clinic in Alameda or Oakland today to see how they can elevate your spine health. It’s never too late to get started and tap into all of the possibilities that await your spine with specialized chiropractic care.