Scoliosis is a condition that typically occurs in adolescents between the ages of 10 and the early teens. This is a period of very fast growth, although it is not known whether that's a factor in developing scoliosis. Scoliosis can also occur in adults, although is less common; in adults, it is called degenerative scoliosis. The term simply refers to an excessive curvature of the spine (more than 10 degrees from normal) that causes a “C” or “S” shape.
Scientists and doctors don't know exactly what causes scoliosis, although genetics probably play a part. It tends to run in families, and a family history of the condition increases the risk that a child will develop scoliosis. It may also have something to do with gender, as girls are more likely to develop scoliosis than boys. Other conditions that contribute to spinal deformities, like neurological conditions, infections or fractures of the spine, may be connected. In many cases, scoliosis just appears without any indication of a precipitating factor.
When idiopathic (unknown origin) scoliosis is diagnosed in a child who is still growing, it can be corrected over time. This is one reason every child should see a chiropractor. However, when scoliosis is discovered in fully-grown adults, it cannot be corrected, only maintained and prevented from becoming worse. At Brain-Body Connection we have identified and corrected scoliosis in many children.
The spinal curvature inherent in scoliosis can cause the spine to rotate, putting stress on muscles, ligaments and tendons. Although muscle spasms can result, most people with scoliosis don't actually report pain. However, the patient's posture usually changes, which may stress other joints, like the hips. Patients with scoliosis may also develop spinal arthritis, which can cause pain, and a severe spinal curvature can cause significant deformity and even restrict breathing. Also, sometimes leg lengths will be different with scoliosis and a heel lift is prescribed to accommodate the problem.
The severity of scoliosis is often what determines treatment. Chiropractic can help with postural correction and help the spine grow in a more normal fashion. Exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles and careful attention to posture can be helpful in cases of mild scoliosis. A brace can help prevent or correct the spinal deformity. Surgery may be necessary in cases of extremely severe scoliosis.
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