There is an alternative to braces and surgery:
Chiropractic care and spinal rehab.
A reader requested that I inform everyone why I believe it’s important to be able to find scoliosis on one’s self or a loved one. The quick explanation is that early prevention is easier and more effective than fixing something that may be too late (even though it’s very rare to not make a difference in scoliosis it’s not as time-consuming when it’s more manageable).
In scoliosis correction, the optimal situation is to “catch” the Scoliosis patient at a young age when the curve is still small. WHY? Remember, the “Gold Standard” of the scoliosis brace is not to make the scoliosis improve, but to keep it from getting worse. After bracing has failed in this objective, and it frequently does, the next progression is major spinal fusion – a step which few informed patients are willing to take.
In Chiropractic, the measure of success in effectively treating scoliosis was low but over the last 10 years, many chiropractors have developed treatment protocols. These protocols are showing correction or reduction of scoliosis using unique non-invasive rehabilitation procedures. Many offices including my own have gone beyond the medically acceptable norm by making consistent corrections.
Coming back to the point at hand, chiropractors are obligated as Primary Health Practitioners to diagnosis Scoliosis. Unfortunately, many are so busy looking for subluxations and sprains & strains that many don’t perform Scoliosis Screenings on anyone.
Scoliosis correction has the potential to validate and affirm the vast healing power of chiropractic to both the public and our colleagues in the healthcare industry. As a profession chiropractors cannot afford to let this opportunity slip away.
The point I want to get across is that chiropractors should be doing Scoliosis Screenings on ALL of our patients. Chiropractors are the Spinal Experts, and scoliosis correction should be our domain.
After the report from U.S. Preventative Services Task Force in 1993 (1), many schools quit doing Scoliosis checks. This report said performing the tests did not matter, and consider the financial aspect: the average cost for Scoliosis screening is $24.66 per student (2).
One study revealed, “Sixty-three percent of Scoliosis cases were detected by family or friends. The number of cases being detected at school had dropped considerably to 8%. Fifty-six percent of all cases presented with a Cobb angle of more than 40 degrees. This study shows that the most common method of detection was by family and friends. Seventy percent of these cases were detected when the deformity was advanced, with Cobb angles of more than 40 degrees. There was a drop in the number of cases detected at school when most of the curves are at an earlier stage. We believe that greater awareness is needed in the community, for earlier recognition of idiopathic scoliosis.” (3)
The first test that everyone thinks of is Adam’s Test. This should be changed the “Too Late” Test! A study in 1999 states that, “the Adams Forward Bending Test cannot be considered a safe diagnostic criterion for the early detection of Scoliosis.” (4) In 1997, a report indicated that a Scoliometer was the best method to detect Scoliosis (5).
In Adam’s Test, by the time a Rib Hump is present, the Scoliosis has already gone above a Cobb angle of 30 degrees. Once the Cobb angle goes beyond 30 degrees, normal spinal biomechanics no longer apply. Abnormal spinal biomechanics patterns occur in Cobb angles once they reach 30, 60, and 90 degrees. This should not be too surprising, considering the geometric significance of these numbers. The body needs to develop these abnormal patterns to adapt to the force of gravity and the resulting change in the stress vectors acting on the spine.
The idea is to be able to detect Scoliosis at an EARLY age. Another study confirms that family, not doctors, detect the Scoliosis first (6). Once the rib hump is visible to even the untrained eye, the patient has already developed an abnormal pattern of biomechanics.
Scoliosis is said to be found in 4.5% of the population. Considering the current difficulties involved in adequately diagnosing Cobb angles, it is probably closer to 10%.
A study in 1988 revealed that 12% of college age women had Scoliosis. (7)
The following article will be the typical screening that chiropractors perform so that others can effectively screen for scoliosis at home.