Scoliosis Part 3: Symptoms and Diagnosis
So far, we’ve discussed Scoliosis as an unnatural sideway curve of the spine that often develops due to unknown causes to modern science. We may not know why it happens in 80% of the cases, but the medical and chiropractic community have developed a standard protocol to diagnose and assist persons with scoliosis. Below, I will discuss common symptoms that accompany Scoliosis of the spine, standard protocol of care and interventions undertaken in more extreme cases.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
People with scoliosis typically have some limitation in their activities, which can mean a harder time performing physically demanding tasks. Depending on the curve, there may be associated back pain and/or stiffness near, at or away from the site of scoliosis. In more extreme cases, heart and lung functioning may be influenced.
Scoliosis can also be psychologically hard on adolescent patients that are already dealing with high social pressures. In extreme cases, it can be a source of notable distress, lowered self-esteem and embarrassment. (1,2)
Diagnosis of Scoliosis
Most clinicians perform a detailed health history of a patient focusing on physical presentation, limitations and changes the patient or family members have noticed over time.
- A thorough physical examination is performed, where Standing posture is evaluated for asymmetries or tilts at the shoulders, spine or hips. To observe limitations range of motion testing is performed for the neck, mid and low back. If any asymmetries are noted, a forward bending test is often performed to pick up any rib or low back prominence that may indicate the presence of a curve.
- If scoliosis is suspected to be a possibility, your chiropractor or physician will order a full spine x-ray set of front and side view to confirm his/her physical examination findings. (1,2)
- If a curve is present, the curve is measured and described using its shape, location, direction of opening, and degree of curvature.
Those diagnosed with scoliosis will be monitored for further progression and recommended for bracing or surgical intervention if the scoliosis is aggressively growing and the patient is not close to skeletal maturity. Here’s how most practitioners approach a scoliosis diagnosis: (1–3)
- Observation is the most important component of care.
- If the patient does not return at predetermined intervals for monitoring, the prognosis can be worse due to delay in care. Most people are monitored until they reach skeletal maturity and require no aggressive intervention. Chiropractic care is beneficial in helping patients deal with symptoms.
- If the curve grows to 25 degrees in children or young adolescents, a brace will be recommended to minimize its progression until spinal maturity is reached in late teens to early twenties.
- Surgery is a last resort.
- It’s used for patients with a curve over 45 degrees that demonstrate a progressive curve, are not skeletally mature and may show lung or heart functioning differences.
Chiropractic Treatment of Scoliosis
Stay tuned for my next blog as I discuss chiropractic treatment of patients with scoliosis!
Our East Vancouver Chiropractic Clinic
Here at Backs in Action Wellness Centre (located in East Vancouver near the Commercial-Broadway Skytrain Station) we have the training, techniques and expertise to help you get the treatment you need. We want to help strengthen your body.
Dr Shervin Ranjbar
Links and References:
1) American Chiropractic Association: acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=2189
2) Scoliosis Research Society (SRS): srs.org/patient_and_family/scoliosis/
3) WebMD: Osteoarthritis Health Center: webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/arthritis-scoliosis