Is Chiropractic Good for You?

As a treatment approach for scoliosis, chiropractic can be beneficial for patients with or without symptoms. When misalignments in the joints and spinal column are addressed, it not only impacts the specific area of the misalignment, but can also lessen related issues and complications. As a complex spinal deformity, the effects of the condition can be felt in areas of the body other than the spine, and chiropractic treatment can help address those issues and help the body function at its peak. 

Within the medical field, doctors and specialists can be trained in multiple modalities. As an integrative form of medicine focusing on diagnosing and correcting misalignments of the spinal column, let’s explore how the chiropractic approach to scoliosis treatment is aligned with the body’s natural instincts.

How Does Chiropractic Improve Communication?

In my opinion, chiropractic can be extremely helpful for people with scoliosis, whether they are experiencing symptoms or not. This is because the body has a natural instinct  to regulate and heal itself; chiropractic is in line with that natural instinct and is a noninvasive means of improving the communication between the brain, the injured area, and the rest of the body.

As the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system, treatment that improves the function of the spine also improves the communication that it facilitates.

Through chiropractic treatment, blood vessels are expanded to carry more oxygen to areas of muscle and can help drain toxins from the body. As the spinal vertebrae and/or restricted joints are adjusted, increasing mobility, this helps keep the body in optimal condition.

When chiropractic addresses an abnormal spinal curvature, a big part of that is to address residual loss of motion in the spine. When that loss of motion is addressed and improved upon, the biomechanics of the entire spine are improved. 

In addition to the fact that chiropractic treatment works with the body to naturally restore communication and function, it’s a noninvasive and effective form of treatment.

Does Chiropractic Treatment Carry Many Side Effects?

Another huge benefit to choosing chiropractic treatment is that it carries very few side effects. Even those patients who experience side effects describe them as mild, such as having minor muscle aches. In fact, in one study, moderate side effects were only reported in one out of every 533 visits. [1]

Not only are there multiple potential side effects associated with a less natural approach, such as chemical drugs, those side effects can be extreme. In addition, medicating as a treatment for scoliosis-related pain isn’t addressing the structural issues causing the pain. Pain medication can also be harmful for scoliosis patients by disguising the fact that their curvature is progressing.

Let’s think of adjusting the spine, for example: this helps alleviate tension and soreness in the muscles that support the spine and provides patients with a lot of relief. This helps improve function, mobility, and relieves pain, and other than the occasional report of minor muscle soreness, there are no notable side effects.

Considering the more invasive and less natural alternatives to treating scoliosis-related pain - medication and surgery - I think chiropractic is a much healthier way of achieving an adjustment and reducing the curve. 

In addition to having very few side effects, research has shown favorable results in terms of healthcare cost and days spent in the hospital for those receiving chiropractic care. One study, comparing chiropractors as primary care providers versus traditional medical management, showed a significant decrease in hospital admissions, days spent in the hospital, outpatient surgeries, and pharmaceutical costs for the patients whose primary care providers were chiropractors. [2]  

Duration of Chiropractic Treatment Results

An issue that some people have with chiropractic is that the treatment results aren’t permanent and adjustments need to be repeated. 

I respond to this by reminding people that there are many aspects of health and wellness that are dependent upon repetition, such as eating. When we’re hungry, we eat and feel better, but eventually, we need to eat again to maintain energy levels and optimal health.

Bodybuilders can’t just go to the gym sporadically and increase their strength and muscle mass. They need to go regularly to maintain the results they’ve achieved; the same can be said of chiropractic adjustments.

When a person’s in a standing position, from the side, you can see the natural curves of the spine. When those healthy curves are replaced by unhealthy curves, joint restriction and loss of function come into play. If I restore as much of those healthy curves as possible through chiropractic adjustments, the restriction on the affected joints is relieved and function is restored.

The reality is that as long as there’s gravity pulling down the body 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you’re going to need to get repeated adjustments to maintain those results.

Now, in the context of scoliosis, as chiropractic treatment targets the injured area of the spine, it simultaneously improves related issues such as lung impairment and balance.

Can Chiropractic Treatment Improve Additional Scoliosis-Related Issues?

The answer to whether or not chiropractic treatment can address other scoliosis-related issues is ‘yes’. 

With the spine being connected to basically every system within the body, the effects of a spinal deformity can be felt in multiple areas other than the back. 

Scoliosis patients often struggle with lung impairment and balance issues, and these are issues that are relieved as a spinal curvature is reduced. [3]

With scoliosis, lung impairment, especially in moderate to severe cases, can be a residual issue of the curvature. A scoliotic curve includes rotation of the spine and the body, including the rib cage.

Once a rib cage is rotated, there’s a lot of pressure on one (or both) of the lungs, and that can reduce lung capacity. This is most noticeable during times of physical exertion. A person with lung impairment might not be able to run for long periods of time, can have a hard time catching their breath, or only be able to take shallow breaths during exercise.

When the spine is adjusted, and the rib cage along with it, more space is provided for the lungs and pressure is decreased. 

This is one of the ways that patients benefit from CLEAR treatment; before and after treatment, we check their lung capacity to ensure that improvements are being made and the patient’s quality of life is improving.

In terms of balance, the natural curves of the spine give it strength, flexibility, and allow us to stand upright and maintain good posture. When there’s an abnormal curvature to the spine, balance can be thrown off as the body adjusts to the misalignment.

When we use chiropractic adjustments to manipulate the spine to move in the direction we want it to, that not only restores function and lung capacity, it also restores balance.

How Long Does it Take to See Chiropractic Results?

In this age of immediacy, people want quick results; however, there is no generic formula for calculating how long it will take to see chiropractic treatment results. 

With scoliosis, the condition and its related symptoms can vary greatly from one patient to the next. When a patient is diagnosed with scoliosis, X-rays help us to further classify the condition as mild, moderate, or severe. Depending on where a patient’s condition lands on that scale determines just how long it will take to see results from their chiropractic treatment.

Patients who are in good physical shape, are younger, or have smaller curves are the most likely to see quick results. That’s not to say that older patients with moderate or severe scoliosis won’t see results; it just means they might need to work a little harder and wait a little longer.

What I find is when someone has a negative opinion about the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment, it’s most often because of a bad experience with an individual chiropractor, and not chiropractic as a modality.

Chiropractic uses different techniques for different conditions, and some chiropractors aren’t trained in multiple forms of treatment for multiple conditions. For example, if someone with scoliosis seeks treatment from a general chiropractor and not a chiropractor who’s been trained and specializes in scoliosis, their impression of chiropractic as a whole can be tainted.

To return to the question of whether chiropractic is good for you, if your chiropractor is specifically trained and specializes in the issue you are seeking help with, your experience with treatment efficacy is far more likely to be positive.

Conclusion

I highly recommend the chiropractic approach for anyone experiencing back pain or living with scoliosis. Not only does it target the specific area of the curvature, as the spine’s healthy curves are being restored, it also improves communication between the brain and the rest of the body.

Even if a person with scoliosis isn’t experiencing back pain, scoliosis-specific chiropractic has the ability to naturally reduce the curvature and alleviate related issues, such as impairments to balance and lung function.

Chiropractic is safe, noninvasive, cost-effective, carries very few side effects, and is highly effective. While critics of chiropractic might cite the impermanence of results as a negative, I feel that’s minor compared to potential side effects of more invasive forms of treatment and the positive ways chiropractic can impact the body’s overall function.

Sources

[1] Patient-reported side effects immediately after chiropractic scoliosis treatment: a cross-sectional survey utilizing a practice-based research network

[2] Clinical utilization and cost outcomes from an integrative medicine independent physician association: an additional 3-year update.

[3] The Assessment Of Lung Function In Children With Scoliosis

Additional Resources:

Clear-institute.org - CLEAR Certified Scoliosis Chiropractors

Spine-health.com - Chiropractic Adjustment

 

Disclaimer: The author’s views are his or her own and may not reflect the views of CLEAR Scoliosis Institute. 

 

Author: Dio Kim, DC, DICCP, DACBSP

Dr. Dio Kim graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic West in 2000 and practices in Tustin, California. He has been CLEAR Certified since 2011, and became one of the first members of the CLEAR Fellowship Program in 2019. Among the many certifications allowing him to be recognized as a CLEAR Fellow are the Cox Technic, Kinesio Taping, ScoliBrace, Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS) Level 1, and many more. Dr. Dio specializes in scoliosis, sports, and pediatric chiropractic. He holds a Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (DICCP) and Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP®). The DICCP is a board-certified credential in pediatrics for doctors of chiropractic who specialize in children, from infants to teenagers. Moreover, he is one of only a few chiropractors invited by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committees (USOPC) to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to treat elite athletes. He is a graduate of the World Masters of Scoliosis Conservative Treatment from ISICO, and is also a licensed acupuncturist.
Reach out to Dio Kim, DC, DICCP, DACBSP

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2 comments on “Is Chiropractic Good for You?”

  1. Thanks for sharing this information.
    Chiropractic care is the best, they treat your chronic back and neck pain with gentle spinal correction and effective chiropractic techniques. 🙂

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CLEAR Scoliosis Centers are privately owned and operated chiropractic clinics. Doctors at CLEAR Scoliosis Centers are personally responsible for all clinical decision making. CLEAR Scoliosis Institute, a nonprofit organization, does not have any authority over the clinic, make any clinical recommendations, or dictate patient care.
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