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I have a special interest in scoliosis, and have made it a priority to modify and adapt standard chiropractic techniques to suit scoliosis. Though only about 5% of the population at large has scoliosis, almost 30% of my patients do.
Scoliosis is a lifelong condition that is usually first identified between the ages of 12 and 18. Some people with scoliosis have no symptoms, just occasional aches and pains like everyone else. More often, scoliosis is associated with chronic pain and early onset of arthritis and disc problems in the spine. To prevent long-term issues, it is best to identify scoliosis as early as possible in the life of a child. Kids should be screened starting at age 8 and continuing until 19.
When I was trained as a chiropractor in the mid-1990's, we were taught that there was no way to alter the course of scoliosis without surgery. However, the thinking about this has changed since then.
I have devised a non-surgical treatment program which can be applied to kids, teens, and adults, and which has shown great promise as both treatment and prevention. To learn more about this treatment program, click here.
I went to high school in the 1980's, and I clearly recall lining up for scoliosis checks at the nurse's office. Boys and girls went separately. You took off your shirt, put your feet on the line, faced away from the nurse, and bent forward so she could look at your spine. They were looking for signs of left-right asymmetry in the trunk, spine and ribs.
Portland Public Schools do NOT provide scoliosis screening, and many pediatricians miss scoliosis because they are not looking for subtle signs.
When I screen for scoliosis, I am very thorough. I'll have the child (or teen) face away from me and I'll look at their spine. I will feel each vertebra and the muscles on each side of the spine. I will watch them move and bend, vertebra by vertebra. If everything looks and feels normal and symmetrical, the child is done and we can screen again in 2 years. The screening itself takes about ten minutes, but we leave extra time to allow the child to get used to me, and to answer questions from parents.
If there is any asymmetry, I will do a few more tests, such as looking for leg length differences, asymmetry in the hips, and tests for nerve and spinal cord function. After this examination, I will recommend further examination if I feel it is needed. The most common follow-up to the screening is a set of x-rays of the spine.
As always, I invite you to call or email me if you have any questions at all about scoliosis screening, our treatment program, or anything else bodywork-related. Thank you!