As a NUCCA chiropractic physician, I often find myself in public looking at people’s posture. One of the most grossly deformations of posture can be scoliosis.
The word scoliosis is derived from the Greek word “skol” which means twists and turns, and is defined as a lateral curve of the spine that often has a rotational component included. With scoliosis, part of the spine moves laterally, forming an “S” (or “C”) curve when looking at the back or front.
As a result of these lateral and rotational movements, there is postural misalignment: the ribs are rotated, the shoulders can be at different heights with one shoulder blade more prominent than the other and, due to uneven muscle contractions, one hip may be higher than the other, resulting in an unleveled pelvis. The head is often not centered directly over the pelvis and the entire body can be leaning to one side. The most obvious symptoms of scoliosis are cosmetic, yet pain and discomfort are also very common. In extreme cases, there can also be cardiopulmonary or other visceral complications.
Structural and Functional Scoliosis
There are 2 different types of scoliosis; Structural and Functional.
a. Structural scoliosis is much less common but more serious and develops as a result of unequal growth of the two sides of the vertebral bodies. This results in what is known as a hemi-vertebra. Usually appearing during adolescence, its causes are not well understood by medical science.
b. Functional (Non-structural) scoliosis affects the musculature of the neck and back and is not caused by abnormal bone structure (all the vertebrae are constructed properly). It is much more common than structural scoliosis, and usually can respond favorably to NUCCA chiropractic care.
A simple way to determine whether someone has a structural or functional scoliosis is to have the patient bend forward. This is a standard screening test given in junior high to determine if students have adolescent structural scoliosis. If a lateral curve is visible in a standing position yet disappears in a forward bend, the scoliosis is functional. If it remains and the rotational component becomes more obvious, it is within the structure of the ribs and spine and is a structural scoliosis.
Approximately 80% of all structural scoliosis is idiopathic, meaning medical doctors don’t know what causes it. Idiopathic scoliosis first develops in girls between the ages of 10 and 14; and in boys between the ages of 12 and 15. Other causes of structural scoliosis are: congenital where the vertebrae fail to separate, or neuromuscular, such as polio or cerebral palsy and also from accidents that involve the spine and/or ribs.
What can NUCCA do to help?
The two main goals with NUCCA are to take structural and neurological stresses off the body. We do this by closely examining the relationship between the skull and the top of the spine, then correcting it if needed. When a misalignment is found in this area, the body will twist and lock down in a distorted position. This will cause chronic uneven muscle contractions in the back, thus bowing the spine and potentially causing scoliosis. By precisely studying the misalignment at the top of the spine, and correcting it according to pre and post x-rays, this uneven muscle tone can be diminished and an erect posture can be restored.
An average visit to a NUCCA office includes pre and post postural analysis. We measure balance, hip rotation, head-tilt and leg length on each visit. Then give a correction to the top of the spine if needed and measure again. Bottom line, the patient walks out of the office straighter then when they walked in. Which, to someone who suffers from scoliosis, is exactly what is needed. The best part is, by addressing the cause of the postural distortions, the positive results can be long lasting, as long as the correction is held.
Your mama always told you to stand up straight, isn’t it about time that you did?
Dr. Brent Noorda
NUCCA Chiropractic Physician
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