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Scoliosis In Adults and Children

 

"Put your hands between your knees. Bend over."

Most of us remember the school nurse checking for scoliosis. The test hasn't changed much over the years. Now I wonder, did some mild scoliosis go undetected?

I didn't know what scoliosis was as a child, I thought it was a 'disease' and was very happy to hear I didn't have it. It wasn't until high school when I saw a girl in a metal spinal brace did I realize scoliosis meant a 'crooked' spine.

The question is:

If you didn't have scoliosis as a child does that mean you don't have it now?

 

WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine often developing in early childhood, showing an elevated 'growth pattern' often diagnosed at 11 - 12 years old. It is more prevalent and progresses faster in girls than in boys.

scoliosis, posture, alignment, pureposture, Dr Chris Sova

It is the most common spinal condition in children and adolescents occurring in approximately 3 percent of the population, about 7 million people. Scoliosis is diagnosed when the spine curves more than 10 degrees, is confirmed by an x-ray.

Most scoliosis in children is idiopathic - cause unknown. Current thinking is the origin could be one of the following:

  • Muscle imbalance
  • Unequal bone growth
  • Injury
  • Birth defect (other symptoms also present)

There are other medical and disease-related causes for scoliosis. It is NOT genetic, nor is it contagious. 

Scoliosis is graded

Mild - 10 to 25 degrees of lateral curve. There is a 23% chance of progression of the curve.

Moderate - 26 to 40 degrees. There is a 60% chance of progression of the curve.

Severe - 41 degrees and above. There is a 90% chance of progression of the curve.

Scoliosis usually creates what is called a 'compensatory curve' causing an "S" shape to the spine.



Scoliosis Is Not Just For Kids

It is estimated approximately 20% of all adults have scoliosis. That number jumps to an astonishing 66% in people over 60. Almost 200 million!  

If you weren't diagnosed with scoliosis as a child, can you get it as an adult? The answer is yes. Most adult scoliosis, like adult Type II diabetes, is ACQUIRED.

scoliosis, adult, posture, alignment, pureposture, Dr Chris Sova

What Does 'Acquired Scoliosis' Mean?

Years of poor postural habits, minor and major injuries, misalignment of the spine, arthritis, osteoporosis, bad knees, feet, and hips can cause the spine to shift from plumb to crooked. Most of which - other than major injury and autoimmune arthritis - is preventable.

Without intervention, scoliosis progresses. Sometimes pain is not present, and I have seen many x-rays of SEVERE lumbar scoliosis but the patient had no pain.

When the angle of the curve is greater than 40%, it's time for a surgical consultation. Forty degrees is the tipping point where the spine begins to impinge organs (heart, lungs, liver, stomach) at which point it can become life threatening.


 

HOW TO TELL IF YOU HAVE SCOLIOSIS

 

  • The first give away is one shoulder is lower than the other. Look in the mirror.
  • One arm seems longer than the other.
  • One leg seems longer than the other. Easily seen if one pant leg is longer than the other.
  • One hip is higher than the other.
  • When standing, one leg is out to the side, rather than standing squarely on both.

Is There a Cure For Scoliosis?

Yes and No.

Scoliosis in CHILDREN

MILD SCOLIOSIS - observe to check for progression. Exercise, as in ballet for girls, martial arts for boys. PurePosture can be very helpful, overseen by a physician.

MODERATE SCOLIOSIS - bracing and exercise. Careful monitoring of any signs of progression.

SEVERE SCOLIOSIS - bracing and surgical consideration. Recently two new therapies have become more recognized in treatment. They are The Clear Scoliosis Institute and the Schroth Method Exercises for Scoliosis. Both hold great promise for adolescent scoliosis.

Scoliosis in ADULTS

Scoliosis involves more than one vertebra.

When a vertebra shifts to one side, it also rotates and tips. Adjacent vertebra are always affected and must compensate. Usually there is an equal and opposite effect on another section of the spine. This compensatory action is the body's attempt to regain balance in the spine.

With time and constant gravity applying downward pressure to the spine, the scoliosis curve increases. Joints become misshapen, spinal ligaments shorten causing increased pressure on the discs. Eventually, the spine is crooked.

This plays a major role in why people get shorter as they age.

scoliosis, before and after, alignment, posture, pureposture

Because most scoliosis in adults is acquired, rather than genetic, changing some daily activities can significantly improve adult onset scoliosis. In many cases a reversal can be achieved.

It makes sense that lengthening the spine helps to straighten it out. Increasing spinal flexibility is key to effectively elongating the spine. Yoga, pilates, dynamic body movement like dancing and swimming contribute to spinal flexibility and lengthening. Weight lifting, running, cycling DO NOT increase spinal flexibility. 

Practicing good posture while standing, sitting, walking - all the time - helps to slow the progression. Stretching your back in the opposite direction of the curve helps. Here is a quick guide to help your posture.


SCOLIOSIS AND OSTEOPOROSIS, A DOUBLE PROBLEM


 

PurePosture can help scoliosis.

Using your body weight and gravity, laying on the unique shape of PurePosture, helps to lengthen spinal ligaments, increase joint mobility adding increased flexibility to your spine. You stand taller, your spine is elongated.

Once the spine is aligned, muscles can be developed to hold the alignment. This will stop the progression of scoliosis, allow for freedom of motion and healing of the area. Check it out today!

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