Scoliosis is the side to side curvature of the spine seen when looking at someone face to face. There is congenital (born with it) scoliosis and acquired (stems from an external force) scoliosis. These two forms are treated similarly but usually have different results with care. Congenital scoliosis, unless treated early on, is much less likely to be reversed with chiropractic care. When the curvature is detected early on in children, however, chiropractic is the best option for not only preventing progression of the scoliosis, but also reversing the existing curve depending on the severity.
Acquired scoliosis is usually caused by some sort of postural influence. For example, when a child carries a heavy backpack around day after day using one strap on one shoulder, the growing body starts to adapt to this posture both muscularly and skeletally. This posture abnormality can ultimately lead to a curvature in the spine. Another example includes leg length inequality. When one leg is anatomically longer than the other and not treated using a lift in the shoe, the body responds to this abnormality by developing a curve in the back to keep you upright versus leaning to one side.
In adults, another form of scoliosis exists relating to the aging process. Untreated scoliosis can lead to progression due to degenerative changes causing wedging of the vertebrae which exacerbates the curve. This can also occur in patients with osteoporosis. This is much more difficult to treat so the main focus of chiropractic care in this case is to get proper movement into the spine and encourage the patient to utilize certain stretching and strengthening exercises to help musculoskeletal function.
While bracing and surgery seem to be common practice in the treatment of scoliosis in young patients, chiropractic care should be the first option. In adults, little is typically done other than physical therapy or pain meds. Again, adding chiropractic to the treatment plan may not diminish the scoliosis much, but provides a very important aspect to helping the spine to function properly and prevent progression of the curve.