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Staying Ahead of the Curve – the Role Chiropractic Plays in Adult Scoliosis Prevention and Correction

Staying Ahead of the Curve – the Role Chiropractic Plays in Adult Scoliosis Prevention and Correction

back pain

Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine that causes stiffness, postural deformity, and at times pain. It is called an idiopathic disease because the cause of it is unknown. Scoliosis is more common in females and begins in childhood. However, merely 2 percent of the population is afflicted. If it is detected early, scoliosis treatment will prevent it from worsening over time.

Scoliosis is derived from the Greek term meaning curvature. People with scoliosis have a sideways curve in their spine that makes an “S” or “C” shape. The vertebrae can rotate at the thoracic level of the spine causing this curve and resulting in a hump near the rib cage. If the curve is more than 60 degrees it is considered serious. Usually this curve makes the waist or shoulders uneven. And unlike the normal curvature of the spine, adjusting your posture will not correct the problem.

Generally, scoliosis is not progressive. In fact, the vast majority of scoliosis’ remain mild, is not progressive, and requires minimal care and treatment if caught early.

In one group of patients, however, scoliosis is often more progressive. This group is made up of young girls who have scoliosis of 25 degrees or larger, but who have not yet had their first menstrual period. Girls generally grow quite quickly during the 12 months before their first period and if they have scoliosis, the curvatures tend to progress rapidly. In girls who have already had their first periods, the rate of growth is slower, so their curves tend to progress more slowly.

In some instances, the degenerative diseases of the spine can cause scoliosis. Osteoporosis is when the bones soften and usually occurs in older people. This softening can cause the vertebrae to bend and shape the curve causing scoliosis or kyphosis (round back). If not treated properly, severe back pain, deformity, and difficulty breathing can be some symptoms that will arise.

A 2011 study revealed that specific structural Chiropractic care can significantly ease the pain and disability associated with adult scoliosis. This is one of the first studies on the effects of chiropractic and exercise on adult scoliosis, and showed promising results.

In the study, 28 patients with adult scoliosis participated in a chiropractic rehabilitation program for two years. The program included exercise and weight-bearing activities designed to correct spinal misalignment. Exercise was facilitated by a chiropractor for six months, and then patients were assigned at-home exercises for the remaining duration of the study. After six months of treatment, patients saw their disability scores cuts in half and experienced a 40% reduction in pain. The majority of patients’ spines became less abnormally curved. This improved spinal alignment made it easier for patients to breathe normally – something that often becomes difficult with scoliosis.

Degenerative adult scoliosis causes the spine to become progressively more curved; eventually the spine can begin to compress nerve roots, causing pain. Gentle chiropractic adjustments and exercise can ease the compression of nerves while promoting proper spinal alignment.

Be assured that chiropractic care does offer a positive approach to helping prevent adult scoliosis from worsening, and in many cases significantly improve it. If you, or someone you know is suffering from scoliosis, feel free to call us at (613) 726-8830 for a complimentary consultation and to set up a time to have your spine and nervous system checked.


Morningstar, MW. Outcomes for adult scoliosis patients receiving chiropractic rehabilitation: a 24-month retrospective analysis. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2011;10:179-184.

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Britannia Chiropractic Clinic
1315 Richmond Road Suite 11
Ottawa, ON K2B 8J7
(613) 726-8830