Written by Keel Russell

National Scoliosis Awareness Month

June has been declared National Scoliosis Awareness Month with the aim of focusing awareness on scoliosis, the importance of early diagnosis and the available treatment options.

Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder that results in an abnormal curvature of the spine and affects approximately 3% of the U.S. population. It is the most common spinal deformity though the cause is primarily unknown, in which case it is termed idiopathic scoliosis. It usually occurs prior to puberty, between the ages of 10 to 15 years old, but scoliosis can develop in infants and adults. Females have shown to be more prone to a particular sideways spinal curvature which can ultimately require either the use of a back brace (bracing) and/or surgery.

Early detection of scoliosis goes a long way in realigning and slowing down the curvature of the spine as bones grow and harden over time. Whilst screening for scoliosis is conducted at some schools via the Adam’s Forward Bend Test, it is imperative that parents take the initiative to have children screened on an annual basis because if left unattended, and while it may be rare, this disorder can possibly lead to further complications.

Screening can be done by a chiropractor, which comes with additional benefits as qualified chiropractors will not only be able to diagnose scoliosis but will be able to provide chiropractic adjustments that can gradually correct the spine. The services offered by a chiropractor can also help people at various stages in their battle against this disorder, from those who have undergone surgical procedures to those who wish to avoid them.

There are generally three types of scoliosis: mild, moderate and severe. They are distinguished by the degree of the spinal curvature. The angle of the curve must be at least 10 degrees to be considered scoliosis – this is regarded as the Cobb Angle. Thus, there are different degree-groupings that determine the type of scoliosis and the requisite course of treatment.

Bracing and surgery have been effective but are usually recommended for extreme cases. Exercise, including stretching and yoga, have become mighty giants in managing and treating scoliosis and is the most prevalent method. As with screening, deciding on an exercise regimen should be done with the consultation of a medical professional. A licensed physical therapist has a wealth of knowledge directed toward addressing an individual’s specific skeletal condition and treatment needs based on the severity and type of scoliosis.

A preemptive position should always be adopted. Early screening and diagnosis and incorporating the appropriate exercise routines can curb the effects of scoliosis, reduce pain and restore range of movement. Scoliosis is a condition that requires ongoing care, therefore it is essential to confer with a licensed physical therapist in formulating a specialized plan to minimize physical limitations and help improve the quality of life.

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