Tuesday, 06 November 2012 18:01

Scoliosis and Chiropractic Featured

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Scoliosis is a common spinal condition that many of our patients suffer from. Though generally a painless condition, scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that can cause other health problems if left untreated.

As scoliosis can develop over a long period of time, it can be difficult to diagnose early. However, there are a few preventative and precautionary measures you can take so that this condition can be detected and treated before it becomes a more severe problem.

Scoliosis is usually detected by simple observation. It is much more common in children, so as a parent, it is important to monitor your child for any changes in the curve or shape of their spine. Routine scoliosis screenings at school can be beneficial in early detection.


Since scoliosis is generally not a condition that causes noticeable pain, there are other things to watch for to detect it. Oftentimes when a patient has scoliosis, their head may appear off center, or one hip or shoulder will be higher than the other. As the condition progresses and becomes more severe, this side effect can restrict heart or lung function, potentially causing shortness of breath or chest pain.

If you have any of these symptoms and think you may be suffering from scoliosis, the best way to properly diagnose the condition and begin treating it is to schedule an appointment with Dr. MacAdam.

During the examination, your doctor should ask questions about your family medical history, any weakness, back pain, or other medical problems you have been having. The main way to diagnose the presence of scoliosis is for your doctor to examine the curvature of your spine. Your chiropractor will likely give you the “Forward Bend Test,” in which you bend forward with your arms stretched toward the floor, keeping your knees straight. Spinal curvature is much more visible in this position.

Other things your doctor should check for are: body symmetry (hips and shoulders in line with one another), skin changes (this can be a sign that scoliosis developed as a birth effect), general muscle strength and good reflexes.


If Dr. MacAdam thinks that you may be suffering from scoliosis, treatment is dependent on your skeletal maturity and the degree to which your spine is curved. There are three main types of treatment for scoliosis, including observation, bracing and surgery.

If your scoliosis is less severe and not fully developed, it’s possible that it will correct itself over time, as long as you continue to carefully monitor it. In this case, your doctor will likely ask you to return for more routine examinations in the future to detect any possible changes or worsening of the condition.

 Dr. MacAdam may also recommend taking x-rays of your back, which will allow for measurements to be made to determine the extent of the curve present in your spine. Each time your doctor examines your spine he can compare the measurements between x-rays and make sure the spinal curvature is not progressing.

Idiopathic scoliosis treatment is usually dependent on the age when it begins developing. Infants who suffer from this condition tend to improve without any treatment. However, it is still wise to carefully observe the infant as they continue to grow and develop.

Juvenile children who develop idiopathic scoliosis are extremely likely to see their condition worsen as they develop into adolescence. Bracing the spine can be effective in treating scoliosis in this age group if used early enough. However, there is a high chance of eventually needing to use surgical treatment.

Idiopathic scoliosis is most common among adolescents. As with adults, less severe cases of this type of scoliosis can be treated with routine observation and measurements taken through x-rays.

Beyond a patient’s skeletal maturity, the degree of spinal curvature is helpful in determining the best course of treatment for scoliosis. In general, if a patient’s spine is curved less than 25 degrees, further treatment is not necessary. However, if the curve is between 25 and 40 degrees, bracing the spine to prevent further curving is recommended and effective treatment.

In some cases, it is recommended that a patient wears the brace 24 hours a day, but in other cases it is only necessary to brace the spine at night. Unfortunately, bracing is not an effective way of treating idiopathic scoliosis in adults whose spines have finished growing, regardless of the degree of curvature.

Surgery is the most extreme form of treatment, but usually necessary when the spine is curved more than 40 degrees. This type of surgery can differ between patients’ individual cases, but generally the goal is to return the spinal curve back to as close to normal as possible. A spinal fusion, using screws, hooks and rods attached to the spinal bones is required to hold the spine in place and to prevent the spine from curving again in the future.

Unfortunately, exercise has not been proven to reduce or treat spinal curvature, but it is still recommended for scoliosis patients as it helps to keep muscles strong and flexible.

As with many other medical disorders, detecting scoliosis requires you to be aware of your body and observant of any changes that may be signs of bigger problems. If you have noticed any changes in the curve of your spine, body alignment, or any of the other symptoms described above, you should make an appointment with your doctor to be examined.

Dr. MacAdam has taken care of hundreds of patients with scoliosis and has a specific treatment protocol for those patients seeking treatment and correction of scoliosis.  Treatment is a combination of a home exercise regimen and specific adjustments and traction in the office.


Read 30557 times Last modified on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 18:25
Dr. Scott MacAdam

Dr. MacAdam is the owner and operator of Ladera Family & Sports Chiropractic. For over 20 years, he has been treating his patients with world-class care and service.