Maybe you remember lining up in the gym as a kid and having your spine checked for scoliosis. This is a test used as a screening tool to catch the roughly 3% of people who will be affected by idiopathic scoliosis. This form of scoliosis usually develops between the ages of 10-15 years old, and has no known cause, but does tend to run in families.
A more mild, compensatory scoliosis can occur in children or adults. The spine may be curved due to poor posture, repetitive and unbalanced motions (like always carrying a child on one hip), or more rarely from having one leg longer than the other.
Early detection is important to lessen the impact of scoliosis on a developing spine. Although the basic screening done in schools, or perhaps during a sports physical, is a good screening tool, it can often miss some mild to moderate cases of scoliosis.
Scoliosis can cause both joint and muscular pain due to an unbalanced load on the spine. Degeneration is also possible. In the same way that having a door that doesn't hang properly wears an arc in the floor, having joints that are not well aligned puts stress in different areas and leads to more wear as a result.
In the case of a compensatory scoliosis, it may be possible to address the underlying issue and see a correction of the curve with exercise and chiropractic care. If caught early enough, it's possible to avoid further wear and tear to the spine.
In the case idiopathic scoliosis, the shapes of the bones of the spine and ribs changes in a way that chiropractic can't just straighten it out. However, chiropractic can be very useful in preventing further degeneration, progression of the curve, and relieving pain. Most physicians may take a 'watch and wait' approach and monitor the progression of the curvature in adolescents, bracing or other treatments may be necessary.
Regardless of the type or severity, specific exercises to restore as much balance and flexibility to the spine also help to reduce pain associated with scoliosis. Gentle adjusting is often beneficial for relief, as well as maintaining mobility.
If you have scoliosis, and are dealing with chronic back pain, or if you have a child who is complaining of back pain, or their posture doesn't look right, come on in for a free exam and see what we can do to help!