Most people may assume that your run-of-the-mill chiropractor is the best option for any sort of back problem, including even the most complicated conditions. But that logic can be faulty when it comes to scoliosis.
Although many believe that chiropractors are doctors of the spine, the actual definition is a healthcare professional who treats nerve issues with manipulations or adjustments to the spine. These adjustments are often extremely beneficial in alleviating back pain caused by things like pinched nerves, disc pain and sciatica. But chronic or long-term spinal conditions, like scoliosis, require some specialization.
A scoliotic spine is not your average spine, so adjustments that would be perfectly fine on a normal spine can worsen the curve or even injure a scoliotic spine. The average chiropractor isn’t necessarily an expert on scoliosis and its intricacies, and may not realize the damage that certain adjustments can cause. A scoliosis chiropractor, however, has knowledge of the complexities of a scoliotic spine and will be able to help.
A controversial method for treating scoliosis, traditional chiropractic care is most effective for short-term pain relief, such as headaches, neck pain and back pain. The results are not yet in as to whether or not traditional methods can reduce the Cobb angle in a scoliotic spine. Therefore, traditional chiropractic care is only recommended for people with small Cobb angles (20 degrees or less) who’ve finished growing. In order to treat scoliosis with chiropractic adjustments, knowledge of the disorder is paramount.
Common chiropractic adjustments, such as pushing on the middle of the back or twisting the neck, can make the Cobb angle worse and even injure someone with scoliosis. For example, if you don’t have a normal backward curve in the middle of your back (loss of the thoracic kyphosis, also known as flatback syndrome), pushing on it in an attempt to manually create a natural curve (a common maneuver in traditional chiropractic treatment) will only aggravate the surrounding nerves and may actually make the curve worse. It’s also fairly common for someone with scoliosis to have joint hypermobility in the neck, causing it to be unstable. Twisting or turning an unstable neck is never a good idea and could aggravate the ligament instability in the neck of a person with scoliosis.
Even though traditional chiropractic care is not always the best option, you shouldn’t throw all chiropractic care out the window as a possible treatment method. Scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments can be incredibly beneficial to people in all walks of life. From adolescents to the elderly, adjustments made by a scoliosis expert can make a difference in both the Cobb angle and a person’s quality of life. Scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments are an excellent option for those looking to avoid a brace, surgery, or who want to experience positive lifestyle changes, such as improved breathing and posture.
By taking multiple X-rays of the spine, a scoliosis chiropractor can measure a person’s unique spinal curve and determine the best adjustments for the patient’s scoliotic curve. These adjustments, along with other alternative treatments, can work to stabilize and eventually improve the Cobb angle.
Adjustments are precise and gentle, taking into account any hypermobility or other issues unique to the scoliosis condition. Scoliosis chiropractors use a precision mechanical adjusting instrument to adjust the neck and other sensitive joints to ensure the most precise adjustment possible without any potentially harmful movements. Depending on the measurement of the spine in a person’s X-rays, a scoliosis chiropractor may perform adjustments on the neck, back, hips or all three.
The bottom line is that specialization does matter when it comes to scoliosis. A scoliosis chiropractor will know the specifics of the disease and how to treat sensitive areas with the necessary precision. But you may be wondering how to tell the difference between a scoliosis chiropractor and one less experienced with the disorder. These questions are a great starting point! Have an honest conversation with your doctor about the methods they’re using and all possible options. Ask to have an active role in choosing your treatment. Taking control of your spinal health will enable you to make the right treatment decisions for you.
Have you tried chiropractic treatment for scoliosis? Do you think specialization matters? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.