Photo credit: nlm.nih.gov
Scoliosis of the spine occurs at a rate of about 1 of every 200 men and 2 of every 100 women. But why does it occur at all?
For decades, doctors and scientists have debated about the cause of scoliosis. They are interested in this health issue because it usually starts in the early teen years.
Scientists haven’t come up with a final verdict on why someone gets develops this curvature of the spine although some of the most promising theories postulate that nutritional deficiencies are at the root cause.
These are plausible theories since in animal studies, a manganese deficiency causes scoliosis. Manganese is vital for the connective tissue in the body – the muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as bones – to grow as they should.
There are other vitamins and minerals necessary for the proper synthesis of connective tissue in the body and to improve posture. Some of these nutrients include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
If the connective tissue can’t be made properly, then the weak tissues cannot support the spine and the curvature and the need to improve posture shows up.
And with the poor American diet that is consumed, it’s entirely possible that deficiencies of these essential elements as well as manganese contribute to the development of the lateral curvature of the spine.
What is Scoliosis?
And that’s exactly what scoliosis is – the development of a curvature of the spine. Instead of a straight spine, the spine curves like the letter S or the letter C, and can cause considerable amount of pain in one’s lifetime.
But what is scoliosis, really? Is it scoliosis if the curve is minimal, like a 5 degree or 10 degree curve? When does the degree of curvature meet a diagnosis of scoliosis?
The answer is that 10 degrees is the cutoff number. If you have a scoliosis of less than 10 degrees, then your spine is called “asymmetrical”, not scoliotic.
And when does scoliosis become mild, moderate or severe? The answer to this question is in the chart below.
Degree of Curvature Type of Scoliosis
Less than 30 degrees – mild scoliosis
30-50 degrees – moderate scoliosis
50 to 60 degrees – severe scoliosis
But there is another consideration. Scoliosis may not just be a lateral deviation of the spine; the spine may also twist while it turns.
The vertebrae of the spine have a long “knob” that is located on the back that runs down the middle of the spine. This is called the spinous process.Photo credit: cedars-sinai.edu
In scoliosis with a twist and a turn in the backbone, this knob moves to the left or the right, and can be as much as 65 degrees away from where it should be!
If the backbone twists along its scoliotic curve, then how does someone untwist the spine? Is there really a scoliosis treatment that addresses the twisting and will improve posture?
Scoliosis Treatment of Children
The fear that parents and doctors have if your child has a 10-degree or more curve of scoliosis is that the curvature will progress to the point where internal organs are compromised.
For example, if the curvature involves the mid back region, the lungs could be compromised and you wouldn’t have the ability to breathe normally.
And if that fear is great enough for your child, a back brace will be prescribed. This back brace idea is practically a death sentence for children. That’s because of these four things:
1. The brace prevents them from moving as other children move around.
2. Other children make fun of kids in a brace.
3. The brace has to be worn for 23 hours a day.
4. Wearing a brace also doesn’t let the skin breathe and it’s hot, as well.
The interesting and more devastating part is that even though the brace is worn, the scoliosis may still progress; thus the scoliosis treatment was a failure.
Bracing isn’t the only scoliosis treatment to fear. Surgery is another. Metal rods are inserted into the spine and it is a painful process. Moreover, the surgery may be repeated as the child grows.
You would think that other treatments have cropped up in the last decade for those with scoliosis. This is true.
Some spinal experts from the chiropractic field have created scoliosis treatments and/or scoliosis tools that can be used with children. The treatment plan usually includes:
1. Distraction of the spine to “stretch” it back into its original conformation and untwist the spine and thus, improve posture.
2. Extensive exercises that must be performed daily.
3. Scoliosis exercises that may hurt initially, as they must re-train the muscles.
4. Nutritional supplements that insure that the connective tissue is being synthesized correctly.
5. Multiple appointments over a long period of time to stay on top of the scoliosis.
And there have been successful outcomes in some of these other methods.
Hope for Scoliosis Sufferers
Those with moderate and severe scoliosis need to be seen by a health practitioner who has worked with hundreds of scoliosis sufferers, not someone who simply does an occasional surgery for it. Get an expert and then a second opinion.
If you have a mild scoliosis, health practitioners simply send you home and say, “Come back in 6 months and we will watch it to make sure that it doesn’t progress.”
But they forget the importance of exercise in this health challenge. Why not focus on improving posture and scoliosis exercises? Movement is always a good thing, if you have scoliosis or not.
Improving posture is also important because it’s too easy to develop bad habits such as:
- slouching at the desk
- looking down at the ground when walking
- slumping into a couch or easy chair and not moving for hours
- not remembering to tuck in the pelvis at the right angle
With this in mind, you can start simple exercises at home today to improve your posture.