The human spine consists of 33 bones and it naturally curves from front to back. In scoliosis, however, there is also a sideways curve from left to right. There can either be a single curve (known as "C" shaped) or a double curve (known as "S" shaped). Scoliosis is normally diagnosed when children have their pre-puberty growth spurt and the severity of the curve is measured to determine what sort of treatment is needed.
The angle of the curve in the spine is known as Cobb's angle, and the treatments are as follows:
• Cobb's angle of 10 degrees - observation
• Cobb's angle of 15-20 degrees - exercise and rehabilitation
• Cobb's angle of 20-40 degrees - bracing
• Cobb's angle of 40-50 degrees - surgery
While most people are diagnosed as children, the curve can continue to get more severe during adulthood. In many cases, adults with scoliosis experience a reduction in their quality of life, some degree of pain, and a reduction in their ability to be mobile. Pain can also be referred to other parts of the body, such as the neck and the knees.
Can chiropractic care help with scoliosis?
The goal of many people who are seeking help for their scoliosis isn't always to reverse the curve in the spine. It is instead to improve their quality of life and reduce their pain. In fact, in many cases, the people who seek surgery for their scoliosis aren't doing so because the curve in their spine is getting worse. They are doing so to reduce the effects of scoliosis on their life (https://acornhealth.org.uk/chiropractic-care-scoliosis/#:~:text=An%20effective%20treatment%20program%20may,help%20minimise%20long%2Dterm%20symptoms.).
In most cases, the only way to reverse the curve of the spine is through surgery, although research has shown that chiropractic care can reduce the Cobb angle somewhat (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259989/). Chiropractic care can be most effective in improving the quality of life of patients with scoliosis. In a study that followed scoliosis patients immediately after they received chiropractic care and 24 months afterward, the patients reported a reduction in pain and disability at both points (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259989/).
So the evidence shows that chiropractic care can have both immediate and long-term benefits for the management of scoliosis.
What are the chiropractic treatments for scoliosis?
Chiropractic treatments usually focus on manual adjustments of the spine and other joints, to reduce inflammation and the function of the affected joint. With scoliosis, chiropractic care doesn't always focus on just the spinal manipulations, especially because this could lead to too much pressure and strain. Important elements of chiropractic care for scoliosis include massage, stretches, and exercise (https://clear-institute.org/blog/can-a-chiropractor-fix-scoliosis/).
Chiropractic care can be an effective treatment in the management of scoliosis. In relieving pain, improving movement and function, chiropractic care can improve the quality of life of scoliosis patients. Since the decision to have bracing or surgery is often driven not by the curve in the spine worsening, but by patients wanting to reduce the pain and discomfort that goes along with it, chiropractic care can mean that patients may no longer need such invasive procedures.