Scoliosis 101: Know Thy Spine!

Jun 28, 2010, 18:52 ET from Minnesota Chiropractic Association

EDINA, Minn., June 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In honor of National Scoliosis Awareness month, we'd like to take this opportunity to remind chiropractors to be alert for signs of scoliosis in their patients.  When we think of screening for scoliosis, typically, we look at school-age girls.  It's true that scoliosis is the leading orthopedic problem seen in school age children; when we screen for it in schools, we find it in 2-4 percent of children 10 to 16.5. But from age 17-21, it's present in nearly 12 percent.(3) When we examine 20-23 year olds, 15 percent have scoliosis.(4) Scoliosis is diagnosed in 19.9 percent of adults with low back pain, and in 68 percent of healthy adults over 60.(5-7)   Obviously, the prevalence of scoliosis increases with age.(5)  We should be on the look-out for scoliosis in all of our patients!

Mild scoliosis can negatively affect exercise & psychosocial function in young people.(8-15)   In adults, it is responsible for a significant amount of impairment, pain, & disability.(7)  Don't discount the possibility that scoliosis could be what is causing headaches, neck pain, back pain, or sciatica!

Fortunately, chiropractors have a great deal to offer the scoliosis patient.  It must be recognized that scoliosis is a complex condition, and diversified chiropractic adjustments, heel lifts, and postural screening may not be enough to effectively manage it.(16)  There are chiropractors who specialize in scoliosis, who have documented very promising results.(17)  If you encounter a case of severe or rapidly progressing scoliosis, before referring your patient out for bracing or surgery, search for a chiropractic scoliosis specialist in your area at

Research & References

  1. Mirtz T, Thompson M, Leon Greene L, Lawrence A Wyatt L, Akagi C: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis screening for school, community, and clinical health promotion practice utilizing the PRECEDE-PROCEED model: Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2005, 13:25.
  2. Reamy B, Slakey J: Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: review and current concepts. American Family Physician, 2001;64:111-116.
  3. Francis RS: Scoliosis screening of 3,000 college-aged women. The Utah Study – Phase 2. Phys Ther 1988 Oct;68(10).
  4. Avikainen VJ, Vaherto H: A high incidence of spinal curvature: a study of 100 young female students. Acta Orthop Scand. 1983 Apr;54(2):267-73.
  5. Voros G, Neubauer P, Khoshnevisan M: Prevalence of scoliosis in adults age 40 years and older: A study of 2,973 individuals. Paper #2. Presented at the North American Spine Society 22nd Annual Meeting. Oct. 23-27, 2007. Austin, Texas.
  6. Anwar Z, Zan E, Gujar SK, Sciubba DM, Riley LH 3rd, Gokaslan ZL, Yousem DM: Adult lumbar scoliosis: underreported on lumbar MR scans. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2010 Jan 6 [Epub ahead of print].
  7. Schwab F, Dubey A, Gamez L, El Fegoun AB, Hwang K, Pagala M, Farcy JP: Adult scoliosis: prevalence, SF-36, and nutritional parameters in an elderly volunteer population. Spine 2005 May 1;30(9):1082-5.
  8. Barrios C, Pérez-Encinas C, Maruenda J, Laguía M: Significant ventilator functional restriction in adolescents with mild or moderate scoliosis during maximal exercise tolerance test. Spine 2005;30(14):1610-1615.
  9. Alves VL, Avanzi O: Objective assessment of the cardiorespiratory function of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis through the six-minute walk test. Spine 2009;34(25):E926-E929.
  10. Lonstein J: Idiopathic scoliosis. In: Lonstein J, Bradford D, Winter R, Oglivie J, ed., Moe's Textbook of scoliosis and other spinal deformities. 3rd ed., Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders; 1995:219-256.
  11. Payne W, Oglivie J, Resnick M, Kane R, Transfeldt E, Blum R: Does scoliosis have a psychological impact and does gender make a difference? Spine 1997;22:1380-1384.
  12. Smith F, Latchford G, Hall R, Milner P, Dickson R: Indications of disordered eating behavior in adolescent patients with idiopathic scoliosis. JBJS 2002;84-B:392-394.
  13. Friedel K, Petermann F, Reichel D, Steiner A, Warschburger P, Weiss H: Quality of life in women with IS. Spine 2002;27:E87-E91.
  14. Korovessis P, Zacharatos S, Koureas G, Megas P: Comparative multifactorial analysis of the effects of idiopathic adolescent scoliosis and Scheuermann kyphosis on the self-perceived health status. Eur Spine J. 2007;16(4):537-546.
  15. Tones M, Moss N, Polly D: A review of quality of life and psychosocial issues in scoliosis. Spine 2006;31(26):3027-3038.
  16. Lantz CA, Chen J: Effect of chiropractic intervention on small scoliotic curves in younger subjects: a time-series cohort design. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001, 24:385-393
  17. Morningstar MW, Woggon DA, Lawrence G: Scoliosis treatment using a combination of manipulative and rehabilitative therapy: a retrospective case series. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2004, 5:32.

Contact: Debra Hurston

(952) 882-9411

SOURCE Minnesota Chiropractic Association