Scoliosis - a sideways curve in the spinal column - is most commonly diagnosed in children between the ages of ten and 16 when their spines are growing rapidly. While some spinal curvatures are mild and asymptomatic, others can progress and trigger more severe symptoms, including chronic back pain; uneven gait; respiratory and cardiac problems due to a twisted rib cage; and self-esteem issues due to visible spinal deformity.
While traditional medical treatment for scoliosis includes physical therapy, bracing and surgery, none of these treatments addresses the most common cause of spinal curvature: trauma-induced injury.
In order to understand why trauma causes scoliosis, let us review spinal anatomy. The spine consists of 24 mobile vertebrae. The head, weighing ten pounds, balances on top of this column. Having one's head perfectly centered upon the spine is critical to distribute weight properly and to maintain one's center of gravity.
Unfortunately, one's optimum alignment can be injured through trauma, such as blows to the head, concussions and whiplash during motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports. If an individual's head becomes misaligned off of its center axis through trauma, it will sit "crooked" upon the neck. Then the spine will compensate underneath and will twist, bend and torque in order to cope with the uneven weight distribution above. If the misalignment occurs in a child's growing spine, scoliosis may occur.
Fortunately, there is a specialized chiropractic treatment that shows promise for individuals with scoliosis. This rare specialty, known as upper cervical (neck) chiropractic care, focuses upon the proper alignment of the head upon the neck in order to improve spinal alignment after trauma. Upper cervical chiropractic care utilizes two diagnostic tools - thermal imaging and digital X-rays - to accurately assess trauma-induced injury. After determining a diagnosis of head/neck injury, each patient's injured spine is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially designed knee chest table. Many patients notice improvement in scoliosis and related symptoms with just a few treatments.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been working with individuals with spinal injuries for the past four years on Maui. For more information on upper cervical care and trauma-induced injuries, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.