In today’s society, there is a great concern about scoliosis. Children are checked in elementary school and high school to see if this menace has gotten a hold of them. Scoliosis is an abnormal, sideways bending of the spine, and the reason for concern is that if not corrected, the progression of this condition may lead to more severe back and health problems later in life.
As the spine improperly twists and bends, the nerves emitting between the vertebrae (spinal bones) have the potential for being compressed and irritated. Once irritated, these nerves will lead to abnormal function in the organ that they control.
There are two general types of scoliosis, structural scoliosis, and functional scoliosis. The structural type is due to an improperly formed bone. The bone may have been malformed by a birth defect or may have developed from a fractured bone that healed with an abnormal shape. Since gravity is always pulling down on the body, the structure which is resting on top of the malformed bone may not sit level. This is the beginning of a tilt to the spine.
Functional scoliosis, the most common type, is due to the tilting of an intervertebral disc (the shock absorber) between the vertebrae. Functional scoliosis is usually due to some type of spinal injury. Such an injury may be obvious like physical trauma, or may not be so obvious, like carrying a heavy book bag over one shoulder.
Like regular Dental care to maintain your teeth, it is essential for children to have regular spinal check-ups. The earlier detection of scoliosis, the easier it is to correct. While scoliosis becomes readily visible in adolescence, with the pubertal growth spurt, it is more easily corrected prior to puberty. The longer you wait to correct functional scoliosis the more likely it is to become structural scoliosis. This results because of the constant abnormal force being placed on spinal bones – they remodel, changing their structural shape.
It has been proven that correction started early can speed the healing process, due to a young spine being more responsive to treatment than an older spine. Chiropractic care involves specific adjustments of the spine, as well as rehabilitative exercises.
Here is a home test for scoliosis (courtesy of Dr. Fred Barge from his text Scoliosis) that may aid in the early detection of scoliosis. Have the child strip to the waist and observe her/his posture from behind.
- Does she hold her head tipped to one side?
- Is one shoulder higher than the other?
- With both arms hanging down to her side is there more room between her body and an arm on one side or the other?
- Looking at the child’s waist, does one side curve in more than the other?
- Does one hip appear prominent than the other?
- Have the child bend over at the waist (as to touch her toes). Does one side of the spine appear more prominent than the other? Is there a hump on one side between the shoulders or on the lower back?
If the answer is yes to any one of these questions, the child is showing the signs of scoliosis. If detected at school, home, or in the doctor’s office, the next step is to schedule the child for a thorough chiropractic examination including X-rays of the spine.