As a complex progressive condition, living your best life with scoliosis becomes about how to improve your condition, and its related symptoms, as much as possible. The best way to improve scoliosis is by proactively managing its progression and working towards a curvature reduction.
Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways spinal curvature that includes spinal rotation. It’s a 3-dimensional condition whose effects can be felt throughout the body. Let’s explore why the spine’s curves are so important and how to improve scoliosis structurally so you can keep living your best life.
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If you look at the human spine from the side, you can clearly see that it curves inwards and outwards in a soft ‘S’ shape. These natural and healthy spinal curves are referred to as ‘lordosis’ and ‘kyphosis’, and these terms also refer to disorders of the spinal curves.
A healthy lordosis includes the two forward curves in the cervical spine (neck and upper back) and in the lumbar spine (lower back). Healthy kyphosis includes the two backward curves in the thoracic spine (chest area) and sacral spine (hip/pelvis area).
These healthy soft curves help to evenly distribute mechanical stress throughout the spine so it’s better able to withstand force and facilitate flexible movement. Considering the important roles that the spine’s healthy curves play, what happens when the spine loses those healthy curves?
When lordosis or kyphosis are abnormal, or when scoliosis comes into play, the spine is faced with a loss of its healthy curves. As the spine loses its healthy curves, the body responds by putting in bad curves, and this can throw off the biomechanics of the entire spine.
As we’ve discussed, the terms ‘lordosis’ and ‘kyphosis’ don’t just refer to the spine’s normal healthy curves, but also refer to specific spinal disorders.
Lordosis refers to an excessive inward curvature of the spine, while kyphosis is the opposite: an excessive outward curvature of the spine. In hyperlordosis and hyperkyphosis, these curves are abnormally pronounced.
Lordosis mainly affects the lumbar spine (lower back) but can be found in the neck also. People with hyperlordosis can have a swayback appearance marked by exaggerated posture.
Kyphosis most often affects the thoracic or thoracolumbar spine (chest/lower back) but can also be found in the neck. People with hyperkyphosis often have a bent-forward posture, giving them a hunchback appearance.
Hyperlordosis and hyperkyphosis are two common spinal disorders and can be caused by structural issues affecting the spine, degeneration, obesity, chronic bad posture, fractures, or breaks.
The National Scoliosis Foundation estimates that there are close to seven million people currently living with the condition in the States. As the leading cause of spinal deformity in the United States, scoliosis is more common than many people think.
As stated earlier, scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine that coincides with rotation. This is where scoliosis differs from other spinal deformities, such as hyperlordosis and hyperkyphosis, that exist only on the sagittal spinal plane.
Scoliosis, as a 3-dimensional condition, includes all three spinal planes: sagittal, coronal, and transverse. The 3-dimensional nature of scoliosis is one of the condition’s complex characteristics that makes it challenging to treat, and in order to improve a patient’s scoliosis, the condition has to be assessed and treated 3-dimensionally.
When it comes to treating a progressive condition like scoliosis, the focus is on improving the condition as much as possible so the patient can live their best life.
Although some forms of the condition - congenital, degenerative, traumatic, and neuromuscular - have known causes, a staggering 80 percent of diagnosed scoliosis cases are classed as ‘idiopathic’, meaning no known single cause. What I have to remind patients is that not knowing what causes the condition to develop doesn’t mean I can’t improve it through a proactive functional approach.
When I first decided to focus my efforts and training on new and effective scoliosis treatment options, it came from a disillusionment with the dominant traditional approach to scoliosis treatment.
What I saw were patients being diagnosed with scoliosis, only to be told that as their conditions weren’t that severe at the time of diagnosis, waiting and watching was the best course of action. In these instances, X-rays were ordered periodically to monitor the patient’s rate of curvature progression.
As the vast majority of scoliosis patients are adolescents and children, growth is obviously a big factor, and growth is the number-one trigger for scoliosis progression.
You can probably see where I’m going with this - in between ordered X-rays, these patients could have growth spurts that would make their spines curve rapidly while playing the watching/waiting game.
When a curvature progresses to a certain severity level, the traditional conservative approach to treatment would often recommend spinal-fusion surgery; I saw this as highly unnecessary. Our approach here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center is to avoid invasive spinal-fusion surgery at all costs.
This passive traditional approach to treatment, that often ended with highly-invasive spinal surgery, seemed counterintuitive to me. Especially with progressive conditions we know are going to get worse over time, establishing an effective treatment strategy to improve the condition early on is key to improving a patient’s quality of life.
In order to really improve a patient’s scoliosis, the structural issue of the curvature has to be addressed. Here at the Center, as soon as we confirm a patient has scoliosis, we start active treatment. We don’t want to waste valuable time observing a patient’s condition at the risk of the curvature being left to progress unimpeded.
The less a patient’s condition has progressed, the better the chances are that we’ll be able to manipulate the spine to move in the direction we want it to. The sooner treatment is started, the better.
When the spine loses its healthy curves, it doesn’t just affect the spine at the location of the scoliosis, but can throw off the entire spine’s biomechanics. This is why, when we treat a patient’s scoliosis, we assess and treat the entire spine.
We want to restore as much of the spine’s healthy curves as possible so the overall health and function of the spine is improved, along with any other scoliosis-related symptoms.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, our first treatment priority is to improve the condition structurally; that means reducing the curvature. Through a series of scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments, we can get the spine to start moving back to a straighter alignment.
The great thing about this is that it’s happening through natural means, and this means that it doesn't come at the cost of the spine’s strength or flexibility.
This functional approach reflects what I want for each and every patient: a functioning healthy spine that allows them to live their best lives.
Many scoliosis patients who’ve gone the traditional treatment route and had spinal-fusion surgery live with changes they didn’t expect: the emotional stress of not knowing what types of activity levels are safe for a fused spine, a loss of the spine’s strength and flexibility, fear of hardware malfunctioning, and the possibility of needing subsequent surgeries.
With our treatment approach here at Center, once we’ve successfully achieved a curvature reduction, we widen our treatment approach to include other disciplines.
Once we’ve established that our treatment plan is working structurally, we start to pursue the benefits of other types of treatment.
While there are still many aspects of scoliosis that we don’t fully understand, we know that the condition takes many forms and differs greatly from one patient to the next. That’s why there’s no one treatment approach that can be applied to scoliosis patients in general.
Whether a patient comes to me with a previous scoliosis diagnosis, or I diagnose them, the first step is to comprehensively assess their condition so I can design a treatment plan that addresses the individual characteristics and symptoms related to their condition.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, we offer our patients access to multiple forms of treatment under one roof. In addition to our scoliosis-specific chiropractic approach, we include a scoliosis-specific exercise regime that can help keep the spine, and its surrounding muscles, loose, flexible, and strong.
An effective scoliosis-specific exercise regime can do a lot to improve a patient’s quality of life. When weight-bearing exercises, such as uneven spinal weighting, are applied, those external forces can help manipulate the spine by pushing against its unhealthy curves, working to stabilize and reduce the scoliosis.
The good thing about many scoliosis-specific exercises and stretches is that they can be done by the patient at home. This can help supplement and sustain the structural results we achieve through our chiropractic treatment.
If a patient’s condition warrants it, we can also include custom 3-D corrective bracing with our ScoliBrace and varying levels of rehabilitation.
We can also provide our patients with scoliosis-friendly diet tips that can help improve their overall health and wellness.
All of these treatment areas offer different benefits that can help improve our patients’ scoliosis.
One of the biggest misconceptions out there regarding scoliosis is that it means living a life of limitation. While there are many factors that impact a patient’s experience of living with their condition, there are many ways that treatment can improve it.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, through our proactive functional approach, our goal is to strengthen the spine naturally so it can better support itself. We don’t want to just ‘hold’ or ‘push’ the spine in a healthier position; we want to strengthen it so it can support and correct itself. This has the best results in terms of preserving the spine’s natural strength and flexibility.
When it comes to improving scoliosis, initiating a proactive treatment approach as close to the time of diagnosis as possible will give you the best chance of successfully reducing the curve.