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How Can I Tell if My Child has Scoliosis?

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Chantilly Chiropractic Center

To fully understand scoliosis, we must first define it. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways spinal curvature such as a “C” or “S” curve that involves at least three vertebrae. The diagnosis changes the structure and function of the spine as well as the paraspinal soft tissues and muscles. It is commonly diagnosed in adolescence but can be found in adults as well.

Signs of Scoliosis: What to Look for in Your Child
Several common physical symptoms may indicate scoliosis in your child:

• One shoulder is higher than the other
• One shoulder blade sticks out more than the other
• One side of the rib cage appears higher than the other
• One hip appears higher or more prominent than the other
• The body tilts to one side while sitting in a car seat
• One leg may appear shorter than the other
• For infants, having delays in crawling or walking
• Excess colic and digestive issues

X-ray is the most reliable diagnosis method to confirm the scoliosis diagnosis. It will also show the skeletal maturity of the patient which may influence treatment decisions. A 1-9° degrees curve in the spine is considered mild, 10-20° degrees is mild to moderate, 21-40° degrees is moderate to severe, and 40+ is severe scoliosis and usually requires surgical intervention and bracing.

Types of Scoliosis
Eighty-five to ninety percent of scoliosis fall under the category of “Non-Structural” or functional scoliosis. In infants, these imbalances could be caused by baby positioning in the uterus, larger than average baby throughout pregnancy, and traumatic births and/or c-sections deliveries. In toddlers, multiple falls, gait imbalances, improper shoe wear, and undiagnosed scoliosis from birth can cause notable pelvic imbalance and leg length discrepancies.

The other ten to fifteen percent of scoliosis are “Structural” or congenital scoliosis. It occurs in only 1 in 10,000 newborns. Structural scoliosis occurs when the vertebrae or bones in the spine are deformed or abnormal.

When Should I Get My Child Checked?
Early detection is key to increasing success rates when treating scoliosis. Thus, if scoliosis runs in your family, or if you have noticed some of the “signs” of scoliosis (see above), it is best to have your infant or child evaluated right away by your chiropractic physician.

Treatment — Can Chiropractic Help?
Eighty-five to ninety percent of scoliosis conditions are treatable! Chiropractors are trained to treat infants, toddlers, and adults. After the first physical exam and a thorough medical history, the chiropractic physician will suggest the best treatment for each patient based on the patient’s age, how much more he or she is likely to grow, the degree and pattern of the curve, and the type of scoliosis.

You and/or your child can expect a combination of the following treatments:

• Chiropractic adjustments
• Heel lifts
• Orthotics
• Changing book-bags (i.e. wearing a two shoulder book-bag or roller)
• Ergonomic training (i.e. how to avoid pressure on low back while at school)
• Decompression therapy (for moderate-severe scoliosis)
• Physiotherapies
• Core strengthening exercises (for lumbar scoliosis)
• Rehabilitation stretching and strengthening

How Long Will It Take For Treatment?
Based on the curvature alone, treatment plans typically would be: 2-3 months for a 1-9 degree curvature; 6-12 months for a 10-20 degree curvature; and 12+ months and/or a referral for additional supportive care for 21-40 degrees over. Maintenance and supportive care yearly is also recommended to maintain optimal development of the spine.

Chiropractic treatments are both gentle, safe, and specific to the child’s spinal structures especially those with scoliosis. Most parents report that their children enjoy their chiropractic adjustments and look forward to future visits. Children experience a greater level of health while under regular chiropractic care as well as a relief in symptomatology caused by scoliosis. It is important to get your child evaluated to maintain proper alignment in their developing spine.

For questions, additional information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Christina Wellner at Chantilly Chiropractic Center, please call (703) 378-2698 or email her at [email protected].

Dr. Wellner, Chantilly Chiropractic CenterDr. Wellner, a Chiropractor at Chantilly Chiropractic Center, received her Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic and is the recipient of the James Buerkle Memorial Award for leadership, service, and commitment to Palmer College and the chiropractic profession. As a physician, she strongly believes in patient education and empowering patients and their families to improve the quality of their lives through a multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Wellner works with local OBGYN offices, general practitioners, orthopedic doctors, neurologists, personal trainers, and other healthcare professionals to administer optimal care to her patients.

For her pediatric patients, Dr. Wellner believes in allowing a child’s natural healing abilities to shine through by using a combination of gentle spinal adjustments and nutritional/lifestyle recommendations. In her quest to educate others about the role of chiropractic in children’s health care, Dr. Wellner hosts classes and lectures in Northern Virginia about the importance of a healthy lifestyle for expectant mothers, babies, and families. Dr. Wellner is also a member of the Unified Virginia Chiropractic Association, American Chiropractic Association, Dulles Chamber of Commerce and an active member of the Dulles Chamber Health and Wellness Committee as well as the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Christina Wellner, please call (703) 378-2698 or email her at [email protected]. Chantilly Chiropractic Center is located at 3910 Centreville Rd., Ste. 202, Chantilly, VA 20151. Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 378-2698.

Ahn, U. M., Ahn, N. U., Nallamshetty, L., Buchowski, J. M., Rose, P. S., Miller, N. H., … & Sponseller, P. D. (2002). The etiology of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. American journal of orthopedics (Belle Mead, NJ), 31(7), 387.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Statement of Endorsement: Screening for Idiopathic Scoliosis in Adolescents. Pediatrics. 2008
Byun, Sunghak, and Dongwook Han. “The Effect of Chiropractic Techniques on the Cobb Angle in Idiopathic Scoliosis Arising in Adolescence.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science28.4 (2016): 1106-110. Web.
Cleere, E. (2004). Scoliosis and Chiropractic. Dynamic Chiropractic, 22, 12.
Chen, K. C., & Chiu, E. H. (2008). Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis treated by spinal manipulation: a case study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(6), 749-751.
“Congenital Scoliosis.” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. N.p., May 2010. Web.
Danbert, R. J. (1989). Scoliosis: biomechanics and rationale for manipulative treatment. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 12(1), 38.
“Questions and Answers about Scoliosis in Children and Adolescents.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dec. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
“Scoliosis.” University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. Jan. 2017.
“Scoliosis.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, n.d. Web. Jan. 2017.
Wellness Media-The Healing Series. Scoliosis and Chiropractic-Safe and Conservative Help with Chiropractic. Wellness Media-The Healing Series, Print.

Other Resources:
International Chiropractic Pediatric Association
Virginia Chiropractic Association
National Scoliosis Foundation
The Scoliosis Association, Inc.
Scoliosis Research Society

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