Can Chiropractic Care Help Scoliosis?

Receiving a scoliosis diagnosis can lead to many unknowns. 

Oftentimes, it’s initially met with a “wait and see” approach which can make you feel like you don’t have any control over your condition or how to move forward with treatment.

If you’re exploring alternative methods for treatment you may be wondering if a chiropractor can help scoliosis. 

We’re here to tell you that chiropractic care is an extremely viable option for addressing symptoms associated with the curvature of the spine.

In the following guide, we’ll address how.

Table of Contents

Can a Chiropractor Fix Scoliosis

Scoliosis is an incurable, lifelong condition that cannot be “fixed” by a chiropractor. If a chiropractor tells you they can “cure” or “fix” your scoliosis, this is a red flag.

If scoliosis is caught at an exceptionally young age, there may be a chance that chiropractic care can minimize the effects of scoliosis. 

But this is not typically the case. 

Most people aren’t aware they have scoliosis or receive a diagnosis until their mid-to-late teen years or later.

Although we can’t “fix” scoliosis, there are many chiropractic treatments we can implement at Therapia Wellness Clinic that can relieve pain and other symptoms associated with your condition.

Why Can’t a Chiropractor Fix Scoliosis?

As we mentioned above, scoliosis is incurable. It’s a biomechanical progressive condition that, by nature, will get worse over time

Because of the progressive component of scoliosis, which can’t be reversed, a chiropractor cannot fix the condition. 

The way scoliosis presents differs case by case:

  • Some people experience a very slow progression of their curvature while others’ spinal curves may worsen very quickly.
  • Some people don’t experience any functional deficits with severe scoliosis, while others experience pain and flexibility loss even with a moderate case.

Whether your scoliosis is mild or severe, care from a chiropractor is good for scoliosis symptoms and can be offered alongside traditional scoliosis treatment methods such as bracing or surgery.

Can a Chiropractor Help Scoliosis Pain and Discomfort?

A chiropractor can absolutely address the pain and discomfort caused by scoliosis that may present as any of the following symptoms:

  • Vertebrae pain
  • Bone spurs
  • Joint strain
  • Pinched nerves
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trigger points
  • Pressure on the lungs and digestive system caused by extreme curvature

Studies have shown that after receiving specific chiropractic-based treatment and rehabilitation, patients with adult scoliosis reported an improvement in:

  • Overall pain
  • The angle of the spinal curve
  • Disability limitations

Later, we’ll go into detail on exactly what a chiropractor can do to address your scoliosis symptoms, but first, let’s take a look at how chiropractic treatment differs from traditional scoliosis treatment.

How Does Scoliosis Chiropractic Care Differ From Traditional Scoliosis Care?

In terms of scoliosis treatment, traditional care typically funnels patients from their primary care provider to orthopedic specialists – including surgeons. 

While surgery is the only method of truly “straightening” the spine, it: 

  • Isn’t offered for individuals with slight-to-moderate curvatures
  • May not last long-term
  • May have a difficult recovery process 

Chiropractic care is seen as “conservative care.” Chiropractors can create a holistic treatment plan that is:

  • Compatible with treating a wide array of symptoms
  • Non-invasive; and
  • Drug-free

What Is the Goal of Chiropractic Care for Scoliosis?

The goal of chiropractic care, like all other conservative care scoliosis treatment options, is two-fold:

  1. To slow the progression of the spine’s curve (hopefully preventing it from getting worse).
  2. To improve quality of life through symptom management that will provide pain relief and increased mobility and function.

To achieve these goals, your chiropractor will treat your body as a whole – aiming to correct the alignment throughout your body while increasing your range of motion and flexibility.

At Therapia Wellness Clinic, our goal is to develop a unique treatment plan that will address your biggest concerns and symptoms and help you achieve realistic physical goals. 

What Can a Chiropractor Do for Scoliosis?

Can a chiropractor fix scoliosis?

No. 

For scoliosis, a chiropractor can provide palliative care that focuses on relief of pain and discomfort and increased mobility.

Palliative care may include:

  • X-Rays
  • Varied manual adjustments
  • Mobility exercises
  • Treatment in conjunction with complementary conservative modalities

X-Rays

X-rays are not always warranted for typical chiropractic care – in fact, many chiropractic offices do not have X-ray equipment on site.

But studies show that for scoliosis:

“X-ray analysis of structural spinal deformities is recommended to direct appropriate treatment in children or adolescents, where curve progression is of concern, or in adults with a progressive or acutely painful scoliosis …”

Before a chiropractor develops a personalized treatment plan for your scoliosis symptoms, they will likely perform X-rays or refer you for imaging if they do not have the necessary equipment on site.

X-rays will help your chiropractor see the degree of your curvature and ensure that they use the best scoliosis-specific adjustments possible.

Adjust Into the Curvature of the Spine

A scoliotic spine is not “stuck,” as is often the case with other issues treated with chiropractic care. Pushing down on the spine and rib cage – a typical adjustment in chiropractic care – is not how scoliosis-specific adjustments are performed.

Using specific mechanical equipment, like an activator or a drop table, a chiropractor will use gentle and precise methods to adjust into the curvature of the spine.

The goal is typically to recenter the head by performing these adjustments on the neck, back, and hips (if deemed appropriate after analyzing X-ray imaging).

Prescribe Mobility Exercises

In addition to in-clinic treatment, your chiropractor may recommend scoliosis-specific mobility exercises focused on improving:

  • Posture
  • Strength
  • Breathing
  • Range of motion
  • Overall quality of life

These exercises will be specific to your curvature and the symptoms you’re experiencing. 

For the largest gains, these exercises will require a lot of repetition and can initially be mentally exhausting. 

They require you to use your body in ways you may not be accustomed to and to continually think about where your curve is and how the specific exercise is meant to reduce pain or improve function.

Combine Treatment With Other Modalities

To enhance your chiropractic adjustments, your chiropractor may also recommend combining your treatment with other modalities such as acupuncture or massage therapy.

Many chiropractors, like Dr. Fanney at Therapia Wellness Clinic in Portland, work alongside certified acupuncturists – so you can receive complementary treatments in the same clinic.

How Can Acupuncture Help With Scoliosis?

Past studies have shown that acupuncture treatment can relieve pain associated with scoliosis through:

  • Inflammation reduction
  • The release of soft tissue constraints
  • Focusing on compensation-related bi-lateral pain

Acupuncture has proven to be such a powerful pain reliever that patients may experience a decrease in pain during or immediately after their first session.

Additionally, for some patients, acupuncture can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding and supporting the spine. Improvement in the function of these muscles can lead to decreasing or halting the progression of the spinal curve.

How Can Massage Therapy Help With Scoliosis?

Although massage therapy can’t address the cause of your scoliosis or improve or delay the future progression of your curvature, patients may experience multiple benefits, such as:

  • Pain reduction
  • Inflammation reduction
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mobility
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased awareness/sensitivity of the body

Two types of massage that are especially helpful for scoliosis symptoms are:

  1. Cranial-sacral treatment – helps to balance the spine
  2. Deep-tissue treatment – relaxes the spine and increases blood flow

How Long Should a Scoliosis Patient Receive Chiropractic Treatment?

Scoliosis is a lifelong condition. Some people are fortunate and have adjusted to their curvature without experiencing pain or disability. 

But, as we mentioned above, scoliosis is progressive. The curve of the spine often continues to worsen over time – slowly for some and quicker for others.

For people who experience …

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Limited mobility; or
  • Loss of function

… treatment is often a commitment you have to make for a lifetime.

The frequency of your chiropractic treatment appointments will vary depending on the severity of your curvature and the severity of the symptoms you experience.

You may start out seeing your chiropractor weekly and eventually progress to monthly visits as your symptoms improve.

Even with years of chiropractic care, your chiropractor won’t be able to fix your scoliosis. But they will do everything they can to help you improve and maintain your quality of life and live with as little pain and discomfort as possible.

Can Chiropractic Care Make Scoliosis Worse?

The way a chiropractor adjusts a non-scoliotic patient should be different from a patient with scoliosis. There are potential risks of aggravating the nerves around a scoliotic spine if adjustments are not specific to scoliosis adjustment methods. 

To effectively treat symptoms of scoliosis with chiropractic care, it is extremely important that you work with a chiropractor who has training and experience specific to scoliotic spines.

During a consultation with a potential provider, you should ask about their experience and training. You may even request to speak to current or previous scoliosis patients who have worked with the provider.

Scoliosis-specific adjustments can be extremely beneficial, so don’t be afraid to seek out chiropractic treatment – just be sure to do your research and make sure you feel comfortable with your provider’s training.

Therapia Wellness Clinic: Portland Chiropractic Care for Your Scoliosis Symptoms

At Therapia Wellness Clinic in SW Portland, our mission is to bring healing and rejuvenation to our community.

To treat your scoliosis symptoms we will …

  • Perform a comprehensive evaluation of your condition
  • Listen to your concerns about how you are feeling and functioning; and
  • Develop a personalized treatment plan 

… to make sure you are completely comfortable and confident before starting treatment.

Book an appointment today to learn more about how we can help.