Scoliosis, the growing evidence that chiropractic may be the best first choice to manage Idiopathic Scoliosis.

Scoliosis, the growing evidence that chiropractic may be the best first choice to manage Idiopathic Scoliosis.

For years, it has been public policy to screen all children for scoliosis, a sometimes disabling and life threatening curvature of the spine. For years, medical experts have led us to believe that watching, waiting and then bracing if the curve progresses was the most appropriate course of action. When the scoliosis became life threatening, surgery with the implantation of a Harrington Rod was the medical surgical treatment of choice.

Chiropractors for years have offered an alternative view of how to treat the condition, with an alternative to the wait and see approach which has created significant impairments for many people. Hoping and praying the condition does not progress is like playing roulette with your child’s spine. Most people do not realize that the term Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown. Over the years, patients have found that chiropractic manipulation both soft tissue, spinal and extremity had an effect on not only children with developing curves but also on adults who have established curves. Curves over 15 degrees can be occasionally problematic and curves greater than 25 degrees can cause some significant problems in adulthood with the back and rib cage.

The problem with even the older chiropractic approaches is that it addressed the spine, however, why did the spine develop a curve in the first place. In the book Cheating Mother Nature, which was published in 2011, it discussed the function of gait and that children who developed scoliosis was built asymmetrically and that affected the way they walked. One of the big ideas had to do with their problems of both overpronation and supination, and the poor coordination which is certainly affected as a curve progresses.

There is some evidence that the pineal gland may play a role. As stated in Dr. Charettes article in Dynamic Chiropractic “The pineal gland produces melatonin, a hormone that appears to influence the development of a balanced spine. Surgical removal of the pineal gland in young chickens1 and in bipedal rats1has produced spinal curvatures very similar to human idiopathic scoliosis, including vertebral rotation and rib humps. In the rat study, the investigators found that providing a source of melatonin prevented the development of scoliosis in ectomized rats. They theorized that “melatonin may facilitate the fine neuromuscular coordination needed to maintain the 24 stacked vertebrae in balance.”

There is other evidence that children with developing scoliosis have poor gait control and may walk awkwardly, because of an imbalance that begins at the feet 3. This was summarized very well a few years ago in the section on scoliosis in Cheating Mother Nature.

Since the evidence behind the Idiopathic cause seems to be a pathological cause known as gait asymmetry and overpronation, shouldn’t we abandon the watching and waiting approach and perhaps screen children more thoroughly not only for scoliosis, but also for overpronation? A more comprehensive screen would take seconds, rather than minutes as we consider probable causes.

What should a parent with a child diagnosed with scoliosis do?

1. Consider having them avoid flat shoes and wear good off the shelf inserts in their shoes. This helps balance out their gait (the way they walk) and may help prevent or reduce curves in the developing body.

2. Have them evaluated from a chiropractor, since manipulation has been shown to help both children and adults with scoliosis.

3. Find them a good fascial therapist, since tight muscles and fascia surrounding a developing spine is a large part of the pathology causing scoliosis. Many chiropractors are trained in Graston, Active Release Techniques and Myofascial Release.

Avoiding the old approach of watching and waiting may seem risky, since it is not the norm, however, clinically, the chiropractic approach early on may be helpful in avoiding a worsening curvature or even the need for a Harrington rod which permanently affects a persons ability to move. In the worse case scenario, medical intervention may be necessary however, you are more likely to avoid that with early chiropractic invention which will manage your child from the ground up with inserts, manipulation and treatment and rehab regimens that can improve the quality of life of your child.

  1. Dubousset J, Queneau P, Thillard MJ. Experimental scoliosis induced by pineal and diencephalic lesions in young chickens: its relation with clinical findings. Orthop Trans,1983;7:7.
  2. Machida M, Murai I, Miyashita Y, et al. Pathogenesis of idiopathic scoliosis: experimental study in rats. Spine, 1999;24(19):1985-1989.
  3. Giakas G, Baltzopoulos V, Dangerfield PH, et al. Comparison of gait patterns between healthy and scoliotic patients using time and frequency domain analysis of ground reaction forces. Spine, 1996;19:2235-2242.

Read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain available on Amazon.com