Finding a chiropractor for scoliosis in Anchorage can seem like a major feat, but it doesn’t have to be. At Better Health in Anchorage, we can help you determine if a chiropractor is the best treatment for scoliosis. Whether you are an adult with scoliosis or are looking on behalf of a child, this article can help. 

Chiropractic has shown great promise in treating scoliosis that doesn’t require surgery or other drastic protocols. Chiropractic treatment for scoliosis varies from case to case, with some chiropractors recommending alternative treatments. However, chiropractic care is very effective for monitoring and reducing the need for surgery in many scoliosis cases.

Can a Chiropractor Fix Scoliosis?

Scoliosis, however, cannot be permanently “fixed.” Scoliosis cannot be cured, not even with invasive treatments like surgery. Every scoliosis treatment strategy is instead intended to keep the spine as straight as possible by halting the progression of the condition.

In order for scoliosis treatment to be successful, the patient must be able to move normally and be free from the discomfort and negative effects that come with having scoliosis as an adult.

So while a chiropractor can’t “fix” scoliosis, chiropractic care has been shown to be effective in treating scoliosis by preventing the spine from progressing into a dangerous curve. This is usually done with a number of different non-invasive modalities. 

Chiropractor for Scoliosis: What the Research Says?

For many scoliosis situations, evidence-based chiropractic care provides a valid and efficient course of treatment. Chiropractic care has a minimal risk profile, especially when compared to surgery, thus it should be considered before more intrusive alternatives, even though it may not always be the best choice.

This is why we’ve included the following studies that show chiropractic care’s effectiveness in treating scoliosis. 

Chiropractic Treatment for Scoliosis: Two Years Later

2011 study followed the treatment of 28 adult scoliosis patients through a chiropractic exercise-based treatment program. The initial clinic treatment took six months and then the study’s author followed up with them at 12-month intervals for 24 months. All 28 of the patients reported improvements in pain, Cobb angle, and disability. Not only were these improvements apparent at the end of the six-month treatment, but they were also apparent at the 24-month mark, as well. 

An Adolescent Scoliosis Case Study

While the study above was performed with adult patients, scoliosis most often manifests in adolescents. So it’s important to understand that chiropractic care can help both adult and adolescent scoliosis, as shown by this 2008 case study. A 15-year-old girl sought chiropractic care after four years of conventional treatments such as bracing and rehabilitative therapy. Her spine was getting to such an angle where surgery would have been the ideal option to prevent further damage.

After 18 months of spinal manipulation and other chiropractic treatment, the girl’s Cobb angle had decreased by 16-degrees, which improved the negative symptoms she was experiencing as a result of scoliosis

Seven Cases of Adolescent Scoliosis and Chiropractic Care

Another study looked at the effects of chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, on seven adolescents with scoliosis. Treatment also included massage and exercise. The treatment took place over a short time (2 weeks) and the authors followed up with all but one participant and found that, among the follow-ups, all patients experienced varying degrees of positive improvement. 

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How Can a Chiropractor Treat Scoliosis?

Chiropractors are well versed in the natural treatment options for scoliosis. The most effective treatments tend to be multi-faceted, using chiropractic adjustments, exercise, rehab therapy, and massage together to not only keep the spine from deforming further, but also to reverse the progression as much as possible. 

Scoliosis chiropractic care is based on a variety of variables. For this reason, chiropractors thoroughly diagnose each of their patients. This often entails inquiries about the health of your immediate family, spinal x-rays, a physical examination, and reflex testing, among other things. This will make it easier for the chiropractor to diagnose the type of scoliosis and decide how to treat it. Chiropractic treatment is also influenced by the particular kind of scoliosis.

The different types of scoliosis and their common chiropractic treatment options are:

1) Idiopathic

This is the most common type of scoliosis in children. It accounts for nearly 80% of childhood scoliosis and there is no known cause. Common treatment options include chiropractic manipulation, exercises, and bracing.

2) Neuromuscular

This type of scoliosis is congenital and caused by a failure of the bones of the spine to separate as the fetus develops. Other birth defects often accompany neuromuscular scoliosis, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Treatment options can include chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, and exercises.

3) Degenerative

Degenerative scoliosis generally happens in adults as the result of a degenerative disease such as arthritis in the spinal joints. Treatment options are aimed at relieving pain because deformity isn’t likely to occur. These options include chiropractic manipulation, hot and cold therapy, nutrition, weight loss, and physical therapy.

4) Functional

Functional scoliosis is usually caused by some other issue in the skeleton, such as one leg being significantly shorter than the other. In some cases this type of scoliosis can cause spinal issues that may be treated with spinal stretching, strengthening exercises, spinal manipulation, and heel inserts.

In addition to the types of scoliosis, there are also categories that are based on the age of the patient.

  • Infantile – 3 years and younger.
  • Juvenile – 3 to 10 years old.
  • Adolescent – 10 to 18 years old.
  • Adult – 18 and over.

The type and category of scoliosis will be essential in a chiropractor’s suggested treatment plan. Since most scoliosis happens during puberty, we’ll discuss the safety of chiropractic for the treatment of children with scoliosis.

Is Taking a Child to a Chiropractor for Scoliosis Safe?

It’s scary enough to find out that your child has scoliosis, no matter how mild it is. The last thing you want is to put them in harm’s way by choosing the wrong treatment option. Luckily, you can rest easy with professional and qualified chiropractors. In fact, many studies have found chiropractic care to be safe for children. A 2015 review of the existing literature found that serious adverse events of chiropractic care for scoliosis in children was very rare. 

How Safe is Surgery for Scoliosis?

Now that you know how safe chiropractic care is for scoliosis, let’s talk about the safety of surgery. One study, seeking to find out, on average, how many adverse events happen for spinal deformity surgery among adults, gives us an idea. The study states that there’s around a 40% chance of adverse events during the time of the surgery, which includes the entire process from intake to recovery. 

This is a high number and needs to be considered when thinking about surgery for scoliosis. Of course, there are times when surgery may need to happen quickly for the sake of the patient, but for most people with scoliosis, conservative options like chiropractic care should always be tried first. 

Chiropractor for Scoliosis: Treatment for Children 

Depending on the severity of the curvature and the kid’s age, different treatments may be available for your child. Although the child still has many years of growing ahead, if the spinal curvature has surpassed a specific threshold (often 35 degrees), the treatment options will likely be relatively aggressive while still being safe and non-invasive. A surgeon may be suggested by the chiropractor in rare (10% of cases) circumstances.

The majority of children with scoliosis will need to be watched for a while to see if the bend in their spine is growing worse. Many children’s spines will naturally straighten as they mature into adults. But it’s a good idea to plan frequent trips to the chiropractor to make sure that the scoliosis is not worsening.

For those children whose scoliosis is far enough along to require treatment, there are several non-invasive and effective options that should always be tried before surgery. A few of the common chiropractic treatments for scoliosis include:

1) Chiropractic Adjustment

Usually, this involves hands-on adjustments to reposition the vertebrae and promote normal movement of the spine.

2) Rehabilitative Therapy

For increasing flexibility of the spine.

3) Electrical Stimulation

For reducing and preventing spasms while strengthening muscles to better support the spine.

4) Muscle Strengthening Exercises

For returning strength to the atrophied muscles, usually on the compressed side of the spinal column.

5) Bracing

In some cases, a brace may be required to stop the progression of scoliosis and promote natural growth and curvature of the spine.

Chiropractor for Scoliosis: Treatment for Adults

Chiropractic treatment for adults with scoliosis will also vary depending on many factors. Unlike children with scoliosis, adults are more likely to experience pain associated with the disease. This can be in the low back, the upper back, the legs, or even hip pain from scoliosis. Sometimes it can even affect digestion and bowel movements. 

Most adult scoliosis treatments focus on first relieving the pain, then correcting what’s causing the pain, and finally strengthening the body for long-term relief. 

Chiropractors do this in a number of ways, depending on where the pain is and the extent of the issue. For example, when scoliosis causes misaligned hips, certain exercises and hip adjustments are often prescribed by the chiropractic doctor.  

Usually, treatment for adults is similar to that for children, although there isn’t any “wait and see” period because adults are essentially finished growing. 

Chiropractor for Scoliosis: Conclusion

Whether you’re an adult with scoliosis or you’re looking for treatment for a child, chiropractic care is a great place to start. At Better Health Chiropractic, we are experienced in treating people of all ages with scoliosis.

By combining multiple treatment options under one roof, we give our patients the best of all worlds and ensure they get fast, effective, and convenient treatment so that they can continue enjoying all Alaska has to offer. 

  • Call or visit our clinic today for treatment options.