A scoliosis can be a difficult diagnosis to deal with as it can have varying degrees of severity. For that reason, receiving a diagnosis of scoliosis can be daunting, particularly if you are unaware of the degree of the problem. In reality, there are types of scoliosis that can be helped with the assistance of your local osteopath or chiropractor, but if it’s very severe and visibly showing in your posture you may find that specialist treatment is required, which may involve surgery. If you are suffering with a scoliosis and it is noticeable in person, you may find seeking the help of a local professional may be the best option for you as they will be able to offer you advice specific to you, and also let you know if surgery may be necessary.
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What is a Scoliosis?
However, there are a lot of people who have only a very mild scoliosis – and if this affects you or a loved one this guide is more relevant. Firstly, what is a scoliosis? A scoliosis is a condition where the spine has abnormal curves, these usually can resemble a slight ’S’ or ‘C’ shape, when looking at the spine from the front. Although our spines are naturally designed to have curves from the side, the spine is usually completely straight when you look at it from the front. This is why if a patient has a severe scoliosis it will be visibly noticeable, as it may cause the body to look twisted or the shoulders or hips to appear uneven. In a mild scoliosis, you may not have any visible indication that anything is abnormal because the degree of curve can be very slight, but it may be enough to cause symptoms such as breathing issues or back pain due to the increased pressure on the spine.
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Causes of Scoliosis
It can be an alarming discovery to receive a diagnosis of mild scoliosis if you’ve received the results from a GP, especially if you investigate the issue online and find severe cases documented. Chances are it’s a very slight scoliosis that can be treated to an extent to ease the symptoms. The main cause of a slight scoliosis is usually a leg length imbalance caused by one leg being shorter or longer than the other. The resultant effect on the spine is also a logical reaction to having a leg length imbalance as this will cause uneven hips, which may then cause the spine to twist or to curve over time. Everyday activities such as walking, running or weight-bearing applies a pressure to the spine, that if your spine is aligned correctly, it can absorb. But if the spine is out of its normal alignment it can increase the pressure on areas of the spine that aren’t designed to absorb that amount of pressure. In most cases, the degree of scoliosis can be very slight even to a degree that it’s almost worth not labelling it as a diagnosed scoliosis purely down to the panic that it can cause in the patients, it really is just a slight lateral bend within the spine. A scoliosis can start to become problematic, potentially causing a worsening in symptoms, when you’re frequently alternating between sitting and standing. The increase in pressure on the lower back that occurs through those movements can cause pain in the back to worsen.
Impact of Muscles on Scoliosis?
Musculature in the body is very unlikely to cause scoliosis, if anything it would actually help to cushion the spine and give it stability. In a correctly aligned spine viewed from the side, we have curvature but when viewed from the front it should be completely straight. This structure allows your body to absorb impact and the pressure of gravity effectively, while also the discs provide a nice spring to guard against compressive force on the spine. If your spine has a scoliosis, not only will it have the curves visible from the side but it will also curve looking at it from the front as well, even if it’s only visible on an x-ray. As gravity applies pressure onto a spine with a scoliosis it can make the problem worse over time. If you are able to build and strengthen the supportive muscles, overcompensating with muscular support is really going to help to protect the spine from the compressive effect of gravity.
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Upper Neck Adjustments on Leg Length
As a side note, there is a field of study in chiropractic that links the position of the upper neck joints with the behaviour of everything south of the neck. In relation to a mild scoliosis, some find adjusting the upper neck joint makes an immediate change to dysfunctions like leg length. However, if one leg is longer or shorter than another, arguably this is going to have more of an impact on the spine than the upper neck joint, because your feet are interacting with the ground. In short, if your neck joint is out of alignment by a couple of degrees but your leg length is out by 1cm on one leg, adjusting the neck isn’t going to do anything long-term to change the effect the legs have on the spine.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of scoliosis from your doctor and you’re not sure where to go from there, having your condition assessed by a professional local to you is certainly worthwhile. If you’re based in the London area, The Mayfair Clinic offers a much more thorough examination of a scoliosis and then provides a specific treatment plan tailored to your individual case. Most patients who receive a diagnosis from the GP of a scoliosis but it’s actually a very minor case that can be helped with the right treatment and exercises to build the supportive muscles. In cases where the scoliosis is more severe, you will need advice from an osteopath or chiropractor who can give you more specific guidance on what can be done.