Lets Look at a Normal Spine
The normal spine provides perfect alignment of all body parts. A slight curve inward at the neck, or cervical spine, balances the weight of the head and allows a clear channel for the spinal cord and nerves.
The curves of the neck play an important part in determining the shape and structure of the rest of the spine. In fact, the entire skeleton and it’s ability to maintain balance is effected. From the gentle curve outward in the upper back, or thoracic spine, the normal spine again has a slight inward curve in the lower back, or lumbar spine, which bears most of the body’s weight and supports internal organs. In the normal spine, the outward curve of the tailbone, or coccyx, aligns with the natural curve of the thoracic area.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine; it is a spinal disorder, not a disease. Although in its earliest stages it may be very difficult to detect, scoliosis is in general characterised by a sideward curve that can produce a raised or drop-effect to the shoulder, a prominent shoulder blade, or one hip somewhat higher than the other. It may also manifest as an exaggerated curve along the length of the spine. One example is the ‘swayback’, in which the head and neck are thrust forward and the upper chest backward. It is more pronounced and not to be confused with ‘poor posture’. More easily noticeable to the untrained eye is the ‘humpback’, which gives the whole torso a puled effect with shoulders raised and a humped protrusion of the upper back.
What Causes Scoliosis
The root causes of scoliosis are not completely understood. It is true that it may ‘run’ in some families, indicating hereditary factors. Again, it may simply appear as an isolated case in one individual. A variety of nerve and muscle disorders can produce scoliosis. Checkups for signs of scoliosis should continue until full growth is reached. Diseases like polio or an injury in childhood can cause vertebrae to develop abnormally. Scoliosis often appears during early teen years, and may make pronounced progress during periods of rapid growth. However, it is also found in young children as well.
Questionnaire for Early Detection of Scoliosis
You may observe signs of possible scoliosis: however, regular checkups by a health professional are important. Do not rely on your own untrained observations. Answer the following questions:
- Is one shoulder higher than the other?
- Is one shoulder blade more prominent than the other?
- Does one hip seem higher or more prominent than the other?
- When the arms hang loosely at the sides, is there more space between the arm and the body on one side than the other?
- Does the child appear ‘swaybacked’?
- Does the child appear unusually round-shouldered, or ‘hump-backed’?
- Does the child seem to have a one-sided stance?
It takes only a short time to complete a scoliosis checkup. Early findings may eliminate years of suffering in your child. The misalignment of shoulders or hips, or the appearance of a hump in the rib or waist area when a child bends forward; these can all provide the trained eye early signs of possible scoliosis.
The Doctor of Chiropractic, with intensive training and knowledge of the spine and nerves, is eminently qualified to check for and treat scoliosis. Though there are no preventatives or medications to treat scoliosis, early detection is important so treatment can start early to ensure the best outcome. The chiropractor may make mechanical, structural adjustments to prevent further malformation or alleviate some of the more debilitating aspects of scoliosis. Some scoliosis may be so mild that little treatment is required, but that is a decision for a qualified health professional, such as a chiropractor.
The sensible course to follow during a child’s growing years is a regular schedule of checkups by your chiropractor. Not only in the detection and treatment of scoliosis, but in full monitoring of growth and development, your child should make friends with a doctor of chiropractic. He or she will also teach your child to be more aware of the role of proper exercise and diet, and care of the spine to prevent problems in the years ahead.