A genetic or acquired condition of the spine, characterized by lateral deviation of the spine greater than 10 degrees. Scoliosis is a physical finding, not a diagnosis; its cause should be investigated and its classification established prior to treatment.

  • Functional scoliosis is evident with the patient in the standing position, but disappears when the patient sits.
  • Structural scoliosis is evident in the standing position and persists with the patient bending forward.
  • Congenital scoliosis is associated with failure of appropriate formation of the spine during embryological development.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis is that of unknown origin – this is the most common form. There is no associated back pain, and the condition is more common in females.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is associated with neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy and spinal muscular atrophy. This form tends to be progressive and usually requires bracing to minimize deterioration.

Scoliotic curvatures less than 25 degrees can be safely treated in the chiropractor’s office without referral for orthopedic opinion.

Chiropractic Treatment Options

The initial visit should include a thorough physical and diagnostic examination including ROM testing and spinal x-rays.

  • EMS with alternating sinusoidal current helps to reduce myospasms. Good results with children under 12 – may help to halt progression, be equal to bracing in slowing progression, and have a higher compliance than bracing therapy.
  • TENS set to patient’s comfort to block pain.
  • Spinal adjustments to increase movement and biomechanical function – pay particular attention to the sacroiliac joints, the lowest segment in the curve, the apex of the curve, and the segments above the curve that reacted compensatorily to the primary curve, including the cervical spine.
  • Muscle work on the paraspinals of the indicated curve
  • Heel-lifts
  • Postural counseling from the doctor
  • Low impact exercise to prevent progression of the scoliosis
Clinical Trials and Facts

A study conducted at Life Chiropractic College West’s public clinic involving 150 children aged 9-15 with mild idiopathic scoliosis (less than 20 degrees) indicated that most results realized measured an average reduction in curvature of 0.9 to 2.6 degrees in one year.

Two other clinical trials conducted stated that after chiropractic care, curves were reduced 50% and 13% respectively in “Reduction of Scoliosis in an Adult Male Utilizing Specific Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation.”

In addition, after only 3 months of active chiropractic care, curves were reduced 16 degrees in “Scoliosis as a Variation of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex and its Reduction under Chiropractic Care.”