Over 3 million people in America suffer from scoliosis, but most don't even know they have it. If you suspect your children may have scoliosis, you can help them live a healthier life if you treat it early. Learn more about this condition here and find out how to self-diagnose before taking them to a chiropractor for treatment.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a common back problem and defined as a curvature of the spine. While most spines are meant to curve in towards the back, scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine. If you were to look at an x-ray of someone with scoliosis, their spine would be curved sideways instead of straight up and down.
Types of Scoliosis
There are a few different types of scoliosis that a person can have. The most common type of scoliosis in America is idiopathic scoliosis, which seems to occur without cause. Some doctors believe it can be linked to genetics, so if you or a family member has scoliosis, there is a chance your children have it too. Idiopathic scoliosis is typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence.
Degenerative scoliosis doesn't occur during a specific age range, but can be caused by trauma such as back surgery, osteoporosis, or an accident. Neuromuscular scoliosis can be found in people with spina bifida or cerebral palsy. And congenital scoliosis is caused by a bone abnormality and can be seen from birth.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Chances are good that you were screened for scoliosis as a child. School-sponsored screenings from local doctors are quite normal in America. If your children's school doesn't offer screenings, your doctor or chiropractor can help you determine if they have scoliosis.
If you suspect your children may have idiopathic scoliosis, look for a curve in the spine. Your children may not stand straight up, but instead lean slightly to one side. One of their hips may be higher than the other, or their shoulder blades may be a different height. In general, if a shoulder blade, rib cage, hip or leg seem misaligned, it can be a sign of scoliosis.
If you see any of these signs, follow up with the Adam's Forward Bend Test. Have your children bend forward from the waist and touch their toes. Stand behind them and observe the curve of their backs as they bend. At this angle, it's easy to see the curvature of their spines. You'll find a noticeable height difference between the left and right side of your child's back.
Take them to see a doctor, who can determine if your children have scoliosis and to what degree. The doctor will perform a bone exam and an x-ray to conclusively diagnose them. A curvature degree of 20 or more is mild, while a 50 degree curve or more may require intervention.
How a Chiropractor Can Treat Scoliosis
Once your children have been diagnosed with scoliosis, there are things you and your chiropractor can do to treat it. Your chiropractor will do spinal manipulation to help realign the muscles and spine and release pressure in the joints. They will also teach you how to do exercises with your children to align the spine, including sun salutation, side stretches and sideways planks.
Lastly, they will do electrical muscle stimulation. This will loosen up the muscles to a greater degree so your children's spines are easier to realign. When muscles around the spine are tight, it makes it that much harder to get the spine where it should be.
All of these practices should be done in conjunction with treatments such as bracing or spinal fusion surgery. Your chiropractor's help can increase the effectiveness of the treatments and ensure your children's scoliosis doesn't get worse over time. Call a local chiropractor for a consultation.