words Alexa Wang
Did you that anywhere from six to nine million people in the US have scoliosis? But still only so much is known about this condition that impacts so many Americans’ daily lives. Keep reading to find out more about the causes of scoliosis, diagnosis, and types of treatment, as well as how to find a chiropractor to help with your care.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is characterized by irregular sideways curves of the spine. Generally diagnosed when a person is around 10-15 years of age, it can range from mild cases, where a person’s daily life is minimally impacted by their scoliosis, to severe cases where they may have varying difficulties in their everyday life, especially regarding their mobility and lung functionality.
While the majority of cases don’t have a defined cause and are known as idiopathic, some potential factors are hereditary or genetic influences, congenital or malformation while developing in the womb, or other muscular or neurological diseases and disabilities such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Generally, scoliosis is diagnosed through a combination of a physical exam and medical diagnostic technology such as an x-ray or MRI. Treatment can be conducted in various ways, ranging from non-invasive methods such as torso braces to more permanent methods like surgery.
Symptoms include uneven shoulders, uneven hips or waist, or a pronounced lean to one side. Injuries like car accidents falls, or other traumatic events can also cause spinal damage leading to scoliosis. In rare cases, spinal fusion surgery may be required to correct the curvature of the spine which can take up to 3 months to fully recover from. It is crucial to understand what to expect 3 months after spinal fusion surgery and how this procedure may affect your daily life and activities. However, following a proper rehabilitation plan and working with your chiropractor can help ensure the best possible outcome.
People with scoliosis benefit immensely from early detection as the sooner a possible case is recognized, the sooner treatment can begin. Scoliosis in children is diagnosed based on age criteria, from infantile at anywhere from 0-3 years, juvenile from 3-10 years, and adolescent from 11 years or the beginning of puberty until their skeletal system is fully formed.
For treatment, practitioners often use an observational approach when a child’s spine has a curve that’s less than 20 degrees to monitor its progress to see if it progresses, in which case there would be a need for more substantial treatment. This would generally take the form of a torso brace when a child has a spinal curve from anywhere between 20 and 50 degrees.
For more severe cases, surgery may be recommended for children who have a spine curvature of more than 50 degrees. A few options for these surgeries are spinal fusion, vertebral body tethering, and expanding rods.
Diagnostic methods and treatment differ for adults, however, as their skeletal systems have matured. They’re separated into three categories, those who had surgical treatment when they were younger, those who didn’t receive treatment, and adults with degenerative scoliosis.
In terms of treatment, adults are often recommended a combined strategy of physical therapy and pain medication if they should need it. If an adult’s scoliosis has developed to a point of severity where surgical intervention is needed, this may be due to pain that’s unable to be managed by medication or other non-invasive methods, or a general need to improve the person’s quality of life in a substantial manor.
How To Choose a Chiropractor
With this information about scoliosis, you can have a good idea of what kind of options you have if you’re searching for a diagnosis and treatment plans. But for you or your child, what matters is knowing how to find the best chiropractor for your needs. Here are some qualifications you’ll need to consider to determine which professional is right for you.
Credentials & Experience
Two things you’ll need to look at when researching chiropractors are their credentials and their experience. Not only should they be recognized in their region and have any other certifications necessary to practice, but they should have experience working with patients with scoliosis so they have an understanding of the condition. Especially if you’ve seen other professionals in the past or have other issues that impact your scoliosis, you should find out if they have experience helping someone with your specific needs.
A Customized Approach to Your Treatment
A health professional should know not only the medical condition you have and how to treat it, but what treatment options will be right for you. They’ll be able to understand the care you’ll need and create a plan that’s customized to you. Their communication style is also imperative, as they’ll need to be able to listen to your concerns and desires surrounding your treatment.
Something equally important is a practitioner’s reviews. Take care to research how they’ve interacted with patients in the past as well as how those patients felt during and after their treatment in regards to the chiropractor’s continued support with their condition.
Get the Care You Need
Because scoliosis is a condition with various causes and treatment options, going into an appointment with the knowledge of your symptoms and how to evaluate whether a chiropractor is right for you can help you get the proper care you or your loved one needs.