Do you think you have scoliosis? Have you looked in the mirror and thought your spine was a little twisted? Your shoulders not level or maybe your jeans or bra strap are not fitting like they used to? Now I know some of these things can be due to many reasons, but if you have been noticing these things for a while and you are starting to feel stiff, you have back pain and things are not getting better, it might be worth considering reading on…
Scoliosis is a fairly common problem especially among children and teenagers but can affect babies though to adults.
It affects the spine and pelvis and is where you will see a twist or curve in the spine, it can affect the rib cage and in extreme cases, affect the internal organs.
Defining and Diagnosing Scoliosis
Spotting it has notoriously been done in schools with the “forward bend test”, which is still used today and a good way to see whether the scoliosis is a “structural” or considered a “functional” type.
A Functional type is where the twist and or curve is due to some compensation or muscular imbalance (which is what I see a lot in practice).
In the image above you will see how figure A as a normally aligned spine, whereas figure B shows a spine that is more S curved which is an example of a functional scoliosis. The reason for this could be due to a “mal position” of the atlas (an Atlas Subluxation) which is based at the top of your neck where it meets the skull. The whole upper cervical spine which compromises your occiput, atlas and axis (when distorted or has some problem) can create adverse mechanical tension on the spinal cord and or central nervous system which can create many problems throughout your body.
Other reasons for why you could have an atlas issue could be due to a number of things including your vision and your jaw mechanics. For more go to Paul Chek’s excellent blog post on the subject.
A NUCCA chiropractor is also an excellent practitioner to see for complex atlas issues, see Heidi Grant NUCCA chiropractor based in London.
A structural type is as it sounds, a structural abnormality in where the spine has developed.
There are many more types that you can read about on the UK scoliosis website.
If you are wondering whether you have scoliosis of the spine or you are a parent or guardian, it is best you have your doctor or osteopath examine you or your child’s spine.
Symptoms commonly occur in young people, especially during a growth spurt around the time of puberty, but older adults with back pain can be diagnosed with scoliosis for the first time too!
These are some of the signs you need to look for:
- Back Pain
- The body that leans over to one side
- One shoulder blade is higher than the other
- One hip seems to be raised compared to the other
- An uneven waistline
- The head is off-center from the midline
- The spine appears to be growing sideways and developing into an “S” shape or a “C” shape
- Tingling sensations or acute numbness in the limbs, finger or toes
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty breathing
- Psychological distress and anxiety
If you suspect you or your child may have scoliosis, you can be referred for X-rays to look at the spine, measuring the spine and its curves, looking at the angle of different vertebrae and checking for the serverity of the curve.
Many doctors diagnose scoliosis using the Cobb Angles that assigns a numerical value to the curve, which shows how far the spinal vertebrae are off-center from the midline.
How To Treat it
Scoliosis cannot be treated but it can be controlled to stop the progression. The earlier scoliosis is diagnosed the sooner the patient can begin correction and improve symptoms and outcomes.
Bracing and surgery are suggested in only a small number of those who have it, they are conventional but are not always effective and usually are risky.
Osteopathic manipulative therapy, in combination with deep tissue massage and corrective exercise to strengthen the core, can have significant, positive results in people with scoliosis, especially functional and may assist in those who are already receiving medical care.
If you are unsure whether you have a scoliosis or not, book today to see whether it is something osteopathy help you with.