If you are concerned about your posture, GOOD FOR YOU! Poor posture is not an indicator of laziness. It does indicate a problem with healthy, normal spinal alignment. Poor posture, such as slumped shoulders, a high shoulder or high hip can indicate scoliosis or curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is a lateral curve of more than 10 degrees. Scoliosis is not merely an abnormal curvature of the spine. In fact, the laterally displaced curve you see is only one of the many symptoms of a greater systemic disease. Scoliosis affects most of the major systems of the body: nervous, digestive, musculoskeletal, endocrine, immune and can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. This is due to the altered function of the spine, causing interference to the spinal cord and exiting spinal nerves.
Although there are different kinds of scoliosis, idiopathic (unknown cause) scoliosis accounts for the majority of cases (about 80-85%). We see a lot of scoliosis in my office and often find that it started with a short leg, even as little as ¼ to ½ inch, which can then cause the pelvis to drop down and the spine to curve in compensation. About 1 out of 4 people have a significant short leg. That’s a lot of people! And the only way to find out for sure if you have a short leg is to take a specific standing x-ray of the pelvis and low back. You cannot accurately determine a short leg by physically measuring a person’s leg length. There are too many variables. In some cases, we find that a child has had a trauma, sometimes from birth, which has caused the spine to subluxate (misalign). The body’s attempt to compensate will cause scoliosis. While 4% of the general population (male and female) has scoliosis, teenage girls have 8 times more scoliosis than boys. That’s why it is so important that children have their spines checked regularly, at least once a year. I believe that scoliosis is much more common than 4%, simply because it is not well measured. I often find it as an incidental finding, before it has become symptomatic.
Abnormal types of postural loads can cause changes in the normal curvature of the spine. You can cause structural problems to the spine due to poor posture, carrying a heavy purse or backpack, and other abnormal activities. Your body will deform under pressure, even if the pressure is applied in a small manner continually over time. This is called Wolff’s law and basically states that bone will remodel to increased stress over time. Constant abnormal stress causes deformation…like how a tree will grow crooked if weighted to one side. It is difficult to accurately predict the amount of curve progression over time in the untreated individual. We do know, however, that scoliosis does not correct itself, and requires active care.
The medical approach to scoliosis is watchful waiting for curves less than 25 degrees! Are you kidding me? That’s a lot of curve! At the Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, we start diagnosing and correcting curves as early as possible, when they are more easily corrected. Waiting until 25 degrees is ridiculous. If a curve has progressed beyond what I can help with, I will refer to a local chiropractor who does bracing. Today’s braces are much better than they were in the past and are well tolerated by most people. Of course, it makes sense to take care of the problem before it progresses to that point.
The chiropractic approach involves early intervention when scoliosis or the subluxations are easy to correct. It can take weeks to months of regular adjustments, depending on the severity. It also involves specific, customized exercises tailored to the individual, and home tractioning to accomplish correction.
Chiropractic care is a gentle, non-invasive way to correct postural distortions, including scoliosis. This is our passion in my office, and we especially want to reach out to children, when we have the best chances at full correction. Get your kids to a chiropractor, even if they have been checked at school. Chiropractors are the experts on the spine. I regularly detect scoliosis in kids, even after they have been cleared by school screening which occurs only 2 times throughout their K-12 schooling.
Who do you know that could benefit from chiropractic care? Mention this blog for your complimentary consultation and exam ($75 value!) to see if chiropractic can help you!* Call us today at (512) 346-3536 or request an appointment here.
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