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Spinal Curves

Your spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae. Seven of these little bones are in your neck, twelve in your thoracic or mid-back, and five in your lower back. They stack up one on top of the other to form a straight line when viewed from front to back, but when viewed from the side they form three curves (the neck and lower back lordotic curves, and the mid-back kyphotic curve).

What Causes Scoliosis?

In 85% to 90% of cases the cause of scoliosis is unknown and the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, tendons and muscles all appear to be normal (although as the scoliosis worsens one or more of these parts may develop abnormalities). In 10% to 15% of the cases the cause of scoliosis is tumor, infection, a neuromuscular disease such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, a birth deformity or disc problems.   Further deepening the mystery of scoliosis is the fact that no one knows why some minor curves get worse whereas about 90% do not. However, it should be pointed out that it is not true, as commonly thought, that poor posture is a cause of scoliosis or that women with scoliosis have more problems carrying babies to term than women who do not have the disease.

Most Lead A Normal Life

Most people with scoliosis can lead a normal life, never even knowing that they have the condition. No one dies from scoliosis. But in severe cases scoliosis sufferers can have breathing or heart problems, though this is seldom a health problem in scoliosis of 30 degrees or less.

Unknown Controlling Factor

Apparently there is some unknown controlling factor or influence in scoliosis that causes healthy parts of the body to assume an unusual shape. Some people feel that there may be a hereditary component to the disease since there’s a higher incidence among relatives than in the general population. However, studies have not ruled out emotional factors that could as well cause occurrence to run in families. If there is anything that all scoliosis researchers can agree on, it’s that a few of them agree.


Initially it was hoped that bracing would provide lasting improvement in scoliosis. This optimism arose from studies showing that curves straighten an average of 50% of the time with brace application. When bracing as followed in the long term, however, a gradual loss of correction was observed, particularly after the patient was weaned from treatment. One study compared 32 adolescent girls who were on a brace with 32 who were untreated. According to the study: “There was no statistically significant difference between the groups.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation appears to be “ineffectual” and plaster casts have often been found to be emotionally scarring.


According to Robert Mendelsohn, M.D:

            Scoliosis is not serious unless the curvature of the spine is severe, but it is over treated almost as often as it is over diagnosed. If your child is diagnosed as a victim of scoliosis, don’t accept surgical procedures or even bracing without first exploring all of the less radical treatment alternatives.

            Epidemiological studies on scoliosis are so scanty that we know next to nothing. There are no prospective controlled studies regarding the effects of orthotic treatment on the natural history of idiopathic scoliosis... Is anything actually prevented or is progression merely delayed until a later period of life? The answers simply are not known.

Neurological Disturbance

New research on scoliosis shows the cause or important contributing factor to be a disturbance or defect in the area of the nervous system that controls posture, body balance and positioning. In one study, researchers were able to identify by neurological tests alone nearly 95% of the scoliotics.

The Chiropractic Approach

Chiropractors do not treat the disease, scoliosis included, but they do correct the verterbral subluxation complex (a condition that interferes with the proper functioning of the nervous system and the body as a whole.) A body without subluxation is in a better position to resist abnormalities and diseases of all kinds, including scoliosis. Recent research suggesting that scoliosis may be caused by a neurological defect reinforces the validity of the chiropractic approach; the nervous system must remain free of structural damage in order for the body to be healthy.

According to Scott Banks, D.C., the role of chiropractic with scoliosis is supported by a “long history of empirical evidence…Fred Barge, D.C., in Ideopathic Scoliosis: Identifiable Causes, Detection and Correction, gave 22 examples of cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with significant improvement. Barge further stated “traditional chiropractic concepts and techniques…have shown decent clinical results in scoliosis control, reduction and correction."

Another report of about 100 chiropractic patients revealed improvement in 84%; 6.8%-total correction, 35.6% significant correction, and 41.2% small correction, while 16%4 showed no change or worsening of curves.

Chiropractic research however, has been limited and the final word is not in on this mysterious condition. However, the evidence increasingly tells us that many scoliosis sufferers could benefit from chiropractic care.


No matter what disease or condition you have, you can benefit from a healthy spine. Spinal health can be as important for your overall healing as proper nutrition. Are you and your family carrying the vertebral subluxation complex in your spines? Only a chiropractic spinal checkup can tell.

            Among the many things contributing to your health: the quality of the air, food and water you take in; how you handle emotional stress; your inherited weaknesses and strength; your use of drugs; exercise; and relaxation-a healthy spine is absolutely essential. In some people it is a major factor and can make the difference between a life of health, strength and vitality or a life of disease, weakness and disability.

            A healthy spine can improve your life-see your chiropractor for periodic spinal checkups.


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