Scoliosis is a curve in the spine where there should not be one.
To see a scoliosis you need to look at the back of the person. When you are looking at the person’s side you should see the innate natural curves of the spine. This is what you want. A gentle rounding in the upper back and a small arch in the lower back. However, in scoliosis there are additional curves that you do not want.
For many people they may have a mild scoliosis. It is rare to find a human with a perfectly straight spine. Simple things such as playing a unilateral sport like golf or tennis may introduce a very mild curve or imbalance in the spine. Or even a history of a sprained ankle can encourage slight aberrant patterns or distortions. Imagine walking for several weeks if not months a little more gingerly on that sprained ankle side … this can have a cascade effect through the knee, hip and low back, right up into the neck.
For some people scoliosis can be more serious and cause a lot of pain. This is typically because the curves in the spine are more severe and may be causing a knock-on effect in surrounding muscles, ligaments and organs. Think about the foundations of your house. If there is a very small imbalance in the foundations it is unlikely to have a huge impact. However, if the angles were very acutely misaligned you are likely to see cracks appearing the walls – not good news. To properly access the severity of a scoliosis the best route is to start with getting x-rays taken. Who ever has taken the x-rays will then access the angles and take measures. This is an important step in helping you understand the severity of the scoliosis.
There are many reasons and different theories behind the cause of a scoliosis. There is a common misconception that it is only caused by a structural or anatomical abnormality. Such as a short leg, or a mis-formed spinal bone. For sure this is a legitimate cause. However, it is found to be the cause in the minority of cases. The large majority of cases are what is called “idiopathic” or in a lay person’s terms – we don’t know what caused it. This is estimated at 90%.
So how do we help these 90%?
Often for these individuals we can observe functional distortions or patterns in their spine and overall body. What does that mean? It means that your body has an inherent desire to be in a state of balance … but for some people pockets of imbalance/tension/tightness build a negative cascade-like effect through the whole body. And the result can be a functional scoliosis. This is a lot more serious in the developing child. They are growing and their spine is growing. If you are a parent, I am sure you want to encourage and support your childs spine to develop in an ideal manner. If you notice a curve in your child’s spine or notice that their skirt hangs unevenly or their trousers wear on one side only; do not hesitate to get a suitable health professional to access your little one.
Also, for children, issues that may have come up as an infant may be contributing to their current development of an idiopathic scoliosis. These issues may be long forgotten about but are a crucial part of a thorough history-taking and build a picture for the health professional. For example, a torticollis in their first couple of months. A challenging birth where forceps was needed may have effected the balance of the upper spinal bones. Previous issues like these may be a contributing factor to today’s issue.
This all depends on the individual and where they are at. It depends on whether you are working with an adult or a child.
For very advanced scoliosis, surgery may be the only option. I was lucky enough in my final year of university to attend a surgery where a young man was undergoing extensive spinal surgery for severe scoliosis. Seeing five surgeons working on this young man was a privilege and equally imprinted the importance of early assessment and intervention for our young people.
In more moderate cases bracing may be the option. And in the earlier days of diagnosis hands-on therapy may support the individual. This is where health practitioners such as myself can support an individual. Attending with me for care would involve a thorough history-taking, a physical examination and following this I can advise on whether care with myself is suitable for the concern presented. Care (if suitable) at Natural Back Health can work in tandem with other health professionals.
If you have any further questions regarding this topic please do not hesitate to contact the clinic on 087 1815007 or here.
This post is a short introduction to scoliosis. An extremely complex issue. Hopefully you find the general information on this page informative and helpful, however it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such.
Appointment times are flexible with late evening availability at the Cork street clinic. The last consultation time for new clients is 19.30. The last regular care appointment is 20.00.