There are a lot of different options for people who have scoliosis, but the most important thing is early detection.
When I was a kid in grade school each year we went down to the nurse’s office for a spine check. We lined up, we bent forward, and they checked to see if we had scoliosis. And if you did they sent a note home, and if you didn’t, they just left it alone.
But as I described in my scoliosis podcast, sometimes you can’t diagnose scoliosis just by looking at someone. Sometimes you actually need an X-ray to see it. That does not mean we need to X-ray every single person who comes in that is concerned about scoliosis, but early detection is the key. So having your kids checked by a chiropractor early is important, because the earlier you detect it, the easier it is to correct. These curves will develop slowly over time and if you find that a child early in life, before the growth plates are closed, has scoliosis, it will affect the way those growth plates develop, and then that can cause uneven growth and a more permanent type of condition.
By correcting the alignment on the growth plate and alleviating the pressure, the spine will grow straighter, stronger and have much less curvature in it, which is super helpful later in life. But, sometimes these things get missed and again I always stress that conservative management in a chiropractic office is always going to be your best bet. If you go down the medical route typically they are not as concerned with scoliosis until it reaches 20 degrees or 22 degrees. That is when they consider bracing or surgical procedures. Other than that, most of the time they are just going to X-ray every couple of years and just monitor it. As long as it is not going up to 22 degrees, they are going to tell you that there is not a whole lot they can do.
In our office, we can refer out to the other doctors who do the soft bracing. We do the chiropractic adjustments to realign the vertebrae, get pressure off the nerves, break up the fixation so the curves are not as dramatic. There are de-rotation exercises and lots of other things that can be used, as far as strengthening and working on your own alignment.
I’m not really sure why a lot more medical doctors don’t employ the physical modalities and use the soft braces. Physical therapists do a lot of good and they have a lot of great information and exercises on scoliosis. Sometimes I will team up with a physical therapist where I’ll do the chiropractic adjustments, and they’ll do the rehabilitative exercises.
Co-treating scoliosis patients can be really a great way to get them to learn how to do the exercises, get it done right, and bring them to a much better and higher state of health.
So, there are a lot of different options, but I always stress that drugs and surgery are last. Always start with the most conservative management, get your kids checked early and often. That is the best and most effective way to treat and prevent scoliosis from becoming a bigger problem.
Dr. Gregg D. Rubinstein, D.C., is a midtown Manhattan chiropractor with over 20 years of experience providing customized chiropractic treatment services to a wide range of clients in the Midtown Manhattan/West New York City area. Dr. Gregg Rubinstein and 57th Street Chiropractic can be reached at (917) 534-6484 and is located at 119 West 57th St. in New York, NY.