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Chiropractic Care &
Adolescent Scoliosis:

The spinal column is made up of 24 small bones called vertebrae. Seven are located in the neck or cervical area, twelve in the mid-back or thoracic area and five in the low back or lumbar area. They protect your spinal cord and allow you to move around in all directions. The spine when viewed from the back should appear fairly straight. However, the average person has a slight curve often due to right or left-handedness.

When someone develops a slightly greater curve than "normal" it is called Scoliosis (from the Greek word for "crooked"). It is known that most people are able to live normal lives; however, cases when the curve is severe are when people can suffer from internal problems. It should also be noted that poor posture is not a cause of Scoliosis and women with Scoliosis do not have more problems carrying babies to full term than women who do not have this disease.

Scoliosis still remains a mystery to the health profession. Most cases of Scoliosis, up to 90%, have an unknown cause. In fact, the spinal components, the vertebrae, disc, tendons and muscles appear normal, although as the curve worsens abnormalities may develop in these areas.


Scoliosis can cause decreased range of motion in one direction in any part of the spine that is associated with the curvature. If the spine curves to the left in the midback like the picture above, it is hard to bend to the right. Due to these spinal differences the muscles will become tight, tender and achy.

Patients in my office with Scoliosis pain of the spine have responded extremely well to care. Along with adjustments and muscle work, we teach the patient stretches to help them when they're home and recommend a rehabilitation program to help strengthen weaker areas.

Minor changes in a curve can alleviate a patient's pain, however permanent structural benefits take longer depending on the severity and how long the person has had Scoliosis.

During treatment I work with your medical doctors to ensure we are doing everything we can to help you. If there is minimal improvement, then we will pursue other avenues as necessary. X-rays should be taken to evaluate the spine initially and see if progress is being made after a certain amount of time.

Clearly, the final word is not in on this condition. However, the evidence increasingly tells us that every Scoliosis sufferer should be under chiropractic care.
    • Current research suggests that Scoliosis may be caused by a neurological defect in the area of the nervous system that controls posture, body balance and positioning. This reinforces the validity of the chiropractic approach: the nervous system must remain free of structural damage in order for the body to be healthy. "The role of chiropractic with Scoliosis is supported by a long history of empirical evidence," states Scott Banks, M.D., D.C.

    • In the past, many treatment methods have been tried such as the Milwaukee brace, casts and surgical rods. Robert Mendelsohn, M.D., has criticized the usual medical approach to Scoliosis on many fronts: "If your child is diagnosed as a victim of Scoliosis, don't accept surgical procedures or even bracing without first exploring all of the less radical treatment alternatives."

    • Recently researchers studied the effects of chiropractic full-spine adjusting procedures, heel-lifts and postural counseling on children 9-15 with mild Scoliosis (a curve less than 20 degrees). After their three-year study, findings indicated children with mild Scoliosis had shown a reduction in their spinal curvature when treated with chiropractic adjustments.

  • Tarola GA. Manipulation for the control of back pain and curve progression in patients with skeletally mature idiopathic scoliosis: two cases. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 17 (4): 253-257 (May 1994). Manipulation Reduces Pain Associated With Scoliosis. OBJECTIVE: This report of two cases illustrates the potential effect of chiropractic manipulative therapy on back pain and curve progression in the at-risk, skeletally mature patient with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. CLINICAL FEATURE: Two patients suffering from lumbar scoliosis and chronic back pain. Both had scoliosis that had progressed after skeletal maturity. INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME: Diversified type chiropractic manipulative therapy was used palliatively for back pain relief in one case, and routinely 1-2 times per month in the other case. Gentle manual intersegmental mobilization, stretching and muscle massage techniques were also applied. The case treated palliatively had curve progression consistent with the literature over an 8-yr period. The case treated routinely did not. The procedure was effective in both cases for subjective relief of back pain. CONCLUSIONS: Diversified-type CMT has a favorable effect on acute back pain when used palliatively. The procedure may also have a favorable long term effect of preventing recurrence of back pain and on retarding curve progression when used routinely 1-2 times per month.