Childhood Scoliosis and Chiropractic

When you’re faced with the diagnosis of scoliosis in your child, you can become scared or have some reservations regarding the ramifications for the future health and well being of them.  Before you become too alarmed, you should take comfort in the fact that much has been learned about this condition and there are more treatment choices than you’ve likely been presented with.

More often than not, your child is usually diagnosed with this condition around the age of 12 or their early teens.  This is a time when many school nurses or doctors’ offices are examining children for this particular condition. It is also a time when marked changes can be happening in the life of your child and your family.

scoliosisWhat we’ll be covering here is a slightly different view regarding the treatment of scoliosis and the overall care and well being of your child in relation to this condition, as it were.  What I’ve seen in my practice is that children with lateral curvatures in their spine (scoliosis) happen for a variety of reasons.  Some are based on physical factors or determined by congenital conditions; like a misshaped or malformed vertebrae or other spinal structures.

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There are also factors that could be called ‘stressed induced’.  That is to say, the way that your child can adapt and cope with stress effectively will also shape their spine and their life.  This is a different idea than you’ve likely heard, so you should read more to learn what we mean by this, because it could be what is happening with your child.

Stress for children can range from anything like home or family issues, parental fighting, separation or divorce.  It could also be due to adoption, sibling rivalries, peer pressure, poor dietary intake, air quality issues, reactions to vaccinations or medications, abuse, car accidents, sports injuries, falls and other physical incidents you can imagine your young ones experiencing.

All of these stressors will affect your child.  How their bodies are able to adapt to these various stressors – especially via their nervous system – will determine how their physiology will present.  Muscles around the spine – the postural muscles – are especially prone to tightening, spasms/trigger points and other forms of adverse neurological cord tension.  These are the same muscles that keep the shape of the spine.

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

This saying is equally true of your child’s spine.  If these postural muscles around their spine are in a tightened or more rigid state of tension, then they will apply this pressure or pulling on the spine. If uncorrected, this pulling can result in lateral curvatures of the spine.  Over time, these muscles can then become shortened, degenerative changes of the spine, ribs and other spinal structures can also manifest.  If the scoliosis is pronounced enough, it can affect breathing, hormone function, heart rate, blood pressure and digestion, just to name a few functions.

The most common numbers for watching or managing scoliosis, medically-speaking, often read like this:

0-10     curve present but not considered scoliosis

10-30   observe for any changes

30-50   brace (thoraco-lumbar spinal orthotic- TLSO) and exercise program

50+      surgical fusion

There are different ways that scoliosis is categorized as well.  It depends on the group, Academy, Association or panel you are reading.  In many cases, the research doesn’t always support the recommendations made.

In general, scoliosis is defined as congenital or genetic, idiopathic and antalgic.  The idiopathic diagnosis, meaning of ‘unknown origin’ is the most common form.  We’ve mentioned the congenital style, and this also includes conditions that affect muscle function, like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.  Antalgic scoliosis refers to the way that a child may bend their body because they are avoiding pain in one area by bending away from it.

Since the idiopathic scoliosis is the most common and, by definition, of unknown origin, this is the form we most commonly see in practice.  This is also the reason that many of these children are not helped in the traditional models of healthcare.  Nothing can be found ‘wrong’ with them and so nothing can be done.  The exercise programs and bracing that helps some kids is probably because they are helping the structures of the spine change.

However, we know from clinical experience that if we can help change why the child has an underlying pattern of tension and stress in their body and in the muscles around the spine, then their bodies can also change structure.  In our office, we offer Network Spinal Analysis, a more gentle form of chiropractic care.  We are not as concerned with trying to ‘realign the bones’ as we are with helping your child unwind the tension in their spine and body.  This will lead to more lasting change, in many dimensions of their health and well being.

Scoliosis is just one condition where we have seen children in our practice benefit.  Things like childhood ear infections, injuries, asthma and other symptoms have also been affected.  Again, we are not treating these sorts of conditions as your traditional pediatrician might.

We are looking to the spine, finding tension and spinal distortion and dysfunction in your child’s spine and addressing that.  It is amazing when we appreciate the power that made the body and also heals the body.  When we free the power to do its work, then we are able to marvel in your child’s ability to flourish.  If you’d like to see how we might be able to help your child with their scoliosis or other health challenge, contact us today to get started.


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