by Bernard S.
Burton DC PA
What is it?
an abnormal curvature of the spine in the side to side direction.
There are two main types of scoliosis, functional and
the functional type will show an apparent improvement with bending
wheras the structural type will not. The type that most parents
are concerned with is the structural type called idiopathic
scoliosis which means of unkown cause.
Idiopathic scoliosis comprises 80%
of the structural scoliosis.
This is the type which can progress from adolescence to
have serious health consequences. This occurs in between 2 to 5 %
of the population (4) and occurs mostly during adolescence.
Girls are 5 to 8 times more likely for the scoliosis to
increase in severity.
Is it serious?
Yes, the child may not exhibit pain early on
since it is a slow progressive disorder, but the chronic pain
usually occurs later in life due to the arthritis and degeneration
from the dysfunctional joints of the spine and unequal
biomechanical stresses. The
spinal curvature can progress to the point that it compromises the
lungs and heart. Curvature
this bad requires surgery to fuse the vertebra into place.
Fortunately this doesnt occur very often, but children
need to be examined periodically.
The screening tests are quite simple and so they should be
done on every child up until the age of maturity.
What are the signs of scoliosis?
shoulder may be higher than the other.
shoulder blade may be higher or more prominent than the other.
3. There may
be more space between the arm and the body on one side, when the
arms are hanging loosely at the side.
4. One hip
may appear more prominent or higher than the other.
5. The head
is not centered over the pelvis.
Examine the person from the rear while they bend forward
until the spine is horizontal.
One side of the back may appear higher than the other.
Are there any theories as to why it occurs?
Idiopathic scoliosis may result from asymmetric
weakness of the vertebral muscles, unlevel pelvis, or misaligned
vertebra (2)(3). There
is some research that correlates to handedness (right vs. left)
which indicates a muscle weakness correlation.
There are some genetic and heredity correlations.
There is also some research that shows a nutritional
component, and since this is primarily with adolescent girls,
there may even be a hormonal component.
Whatever the reason,
the treatment approach should consider as many of the causes as
What should you do if you suspect your child has
professional help; the chiropractor or the orthopedist.
If it progresses to a large degree, it may be necessary for
mechanical bracing or even surgery.
Either of these professionals can evaluate the necessary
X-rays. The surgery
can be performed by an experienced orthopedist.
Conservative treatment can be performed in mild to moderate
cases using manipulation, electrical muscle stimulation, heel
lifts, specific exercises, kinesiology, and various approaches
(6). Research is
necessary to determine the benefits of the conservative
treatments. The best
research is a study with a large number or participants that would
require many children to be left untreated as a control group.
Since this would be cruel to the children, definitive
research may never be performed.
Therefore, it is best for the parents to become as
knowledgeable as possible to make the best decision for their
Of particular note:
There is a
caveat to the above statement.
There is a significant bias in some scoliosis societies.
In fact, the Scoliosis Research Society has no
a society based on the improvement of spinal curvature which does
not have any members of the second largest health physician
profession in the country whose primary purpose is to align the
Clinically Oriented Anatomy, 2nd Edition, Kieth L. Moore, Ph.D.,
F.I.A.C., Williams & Wilkens, 1985. Pgs568-569.
Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 6th Edition, Gerald J.
Tortora & Nicholas P. Anagnostakos, Harper & Row, 1990.
of Clinical Chiropractic,
Gregory Plaugher, editor.
Williams and Wilkens 1993, pgs 266-278.
Fundamentals of Orthopedics, 3rd Edition.
John J. Gartland, M.D. , W.B. Saunders Company
S. Burton DC PA, is a Chiropractic Physician, Clinical
Nutritionist, Craniopath, and Acupuncturist in Sunrise, utilizing
Applied Kinesiology in his practice.
He is located at 2045 North University Drive, Sunrise,
in the University Plaza, which is at the corner of Sunset Strip
and University Drive. He
can be reached at (954) 742-0332, FAX
(954) 742-7344 or www.betterbacks.com.
Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a system for evaluating
body function. It was
developed within the Chiropractic Profession and utilizes manual
muscle testing, clinical expertise, and lab tests, to diagnose
function problems which can then be treated with Chiropractic,
Acupuncture, Nutrition, Deep- Tissue Stimulation, Craniosacral
work, as well as a variety of other techniques. This type of muscle testing has been termed