Scoliosis. At the end of this article will include a link to Sarah Key, a physiotherapist’s website. It is a lovely website that I agree with in scoliosis theory and methodology.
This article will express my professional opinion as well as my personal experience. In advance, I will say I am very passionate about my opinion on this topic because I have scoliosis. I find the rods put in the spine one of the most barbaric forms of surgery. The only need for something so severe as rods is if a child has something termed ‘runaway scoliosis’ and it is advancing so rapidly that no other method can change it. But beware of the solution. I treat patients who have had rod surgery and still have up to 75-degree curvatures. The spine never stopped growing crooked, and now they have rods on their back. There is no evidence that the rods, in fact, did anything. Spinal growth is self-limiting, and regardless of whether it grows straight or crooked, it will eventually stop growing and stabilize.
Scoliosis is idiopathic, meaning medicine has NO known cause. How many things in this day and age does medicine admit to not knowing about?! That is pretty remarkable in itself.
I have great respect for those who research. It is a job I have no patience to do. And research is of great importance. However, double-blind studies that are not financed by outside interests are rare in all fields. I always say, ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ If chiropractic does not work for your scoliosis, don’t do it, but it’s worth a go. My scoliosis affected me so that it led me to become a doctor of chiropractic when modern medicine failed me. (See Dr. Janelle’s Story)
My theory of scoliosis begins is not new: congenital factors related to genetics, nutritional deficiencies, and environment are one possibility. I see another in practice: the result of a car accident, multiple head traumas from falling, or other traumatic events in babies or childhood that lead the spine to grow incorrectly. Lastly, birth trauma is an issue. When a baby is born, it is often in torsion, and the cranial bones and C1 especially are out of alignment. To the naked eye, you can see when a baby is not growing straight. As a provider, it is physically evident that after a baby is adjusted, they unwind.
While a theory, mine is based on the ‘righting reflex.’ The body will contort in any way to keep the eyes straight on the horizon. Correcting a misalignment can help the baby’s body to unwind and give it a chance to grow straighter. It is amusing. These articles I read about how subluxations or misalignments aren’t true. They are areas that aren’t entirely functioning correctly and measured in millimeters based on spinal mechanics. This is the same as any form of medicine measured in milligrams and millimeters. What difference psychology believes that a few milligrams of medicine make. A surgeon knows millimeters is the difference between life and death. The body is functional, fluid, and self-healing.
Regardless of the degree of your scoliosis: mild, moderate, or severe; balance is the key. A scoliosis person always feels out of balance or like they have random things wrong because of it. They do not function the same as a person with a straight spine, ***and they should not be adjusted the same. Getting adjusted typically results in balancing the spine as is; I have never claimed to straighten a spine. The increase in proper posture and function results from the nerve-bone-muscle structure being released and put into a correction, and the surrounding supportive muscles strengthened.
When the upper cervical area in a scoliosis patient is corrected, it makes a world of difference. It feels like spring has been unwound. While the actual curve may not change, the neurology of the body, in its own wisdom, allows the body to function better.
For people without scoliosis, it is hard to understand how painful it is to live ‘off balance.’
Adjusting the patient in the convexity (curves) of the spine in a cross-body fashion instead of bilaterally makes a significant difference in how that person functions. Likewise, I always recommend unilateral exercises for patients (lunges or one-legged squats instead of regular squats, for example) over bilateral. Lastly, foot mechanics can be a factor in the spine not growing correctly, and the feet also need properly assessed and adjusted. Orthotics should not be cast unless the child is ‘in correction ‘and they are not a total solution for a dynamic foot. I prefer kinesiology tape myself, as it is a functional solution.
Regardless of your age, there are many functional solutions for scoliosis. If it is evident in your child, please search and exhaust all options before undergoing rod or clip surgery. It is not a forever solution and decreases function and adds pain to your child’s life.
Drs. Greg and Janelle Hutti (both of whom have scoliosis) are the owners of Be Well Chiropractic in Spring Hill and Franklin, TN, and live in a town with their two daughters.