As a scoliosis expert, I get asked numerous questions about the condition on a frequent basis. And I am happy to educate, inform and empower those who come to me seeking answers. To me, clearing up the confusion around scoliosis is an essential aspect of my job.
Treating scoliosis with surgery is the default approach taken by the traditional medical establishment. It has become so normalized and so routine, though, that I’m afraid people don’t fully understand what it means to undergo surgery for scoliosis.
Spinal fusion scoliosis surgery, for example, is a serious procedure. It changes the body significantly, and it alters the course of a patient’s life irreversibly. Yes, surgery has become the standard for treatment; I just want patients and their families to understand what they are getting themselves into when they opt to engage in this approach.
When it comes to mild scoliosis, the conventional wisdom tells patients and their families to watch and wait. Of course, watching and waiting typically leads to the condition progressing from mild to moderate and, eventually, to severe. I believe that patients have the best chance of treating scoliosis when it is in the earliest, mildest stages. Unfortunately, traditional treatment approaches are not so proactive. Furthermore, the signs of mild scoliosis can be quite subtle and difficult to discern.
I believe a proactive approach to scoliosis gives patients the best chance at stopping the progression of their spinal curvatures. The traditional treatment approach emphasizes observation and inaction. But this only serves to allow scoliosis to continue its progression until the point when surgery is recommended as the only viable option.
Being proactive about scoliosis means considering alternative treatments. The chiropractic-centered model puts patients back in the driver’s seat of their own health and recovery. But it requires time, effort and commitment. Not only does this approach entail scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments, but it also includes exercise, bracing and physical therapy.
Scoliosis is a physical condition of the body, but its emotional impact should not be underestimated. We talk a lot about the physical and medical aspects of scoliosis: The rate at which curves progress, the types of treatments that are most effective and the limitations that must be dealt with are all topics deserving of discussion. But for many people, the emotional aspects of living with scoliosis have the greatest impact. This is especially true for adolescents with the condition.
The traditional approach to treating scoliosis is conservative and seemingly sensible. Experts in the realm of conventional treatment agree that the best approach is to watch and wait. They err on the side of being reactive instead of proactive, and they convince patients and their families that their methods are practical, rational and grounded in the most modern best practices. But all the watching and waiting that’s done by scoliosis patients never improves the condition. In most cases, watching and waiting means watching as a spinal curvature progresses, and then waiting to undergo expensive and invasive surgery.
If you ask the average person about scoliosis exercises, they might respond with a confused look. To most people, scoliosis is seen as a limiting condition that prevents patients from participating in physical activities. They may see scoliosis patients as fragile individuals who must be kept away from activities like exercise or sports.
For those who live with scoliosis, however, exercise is a crucial component of treating the condition.
When it comes to severe scoliosis, however, traditional treatment methods almost always recommend surgery. Severe scoliosis comes with a high probability of the condition worsening. In fact, severe scoliosis carries a 90% risk of progression. That is why orthopedic doctors and others who treat the condition in the traditional manner recommend surgery. And it is why the condition needs to be taken very seriously.
If you are a parent, there is nothing more important to you than the health and well being of your child. You feel every cough and sniffle with them, and you bear the pain of the occasional scraped knee or elbow just as much as they do. You treat your child with love, and you do everything in your power to ensure a safe, happy and healthy future.