The Journal of Physical Therapy Science published a case study on November 24, 2017, documenting the improvement of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis under specific chiropractic care. According to the National Institute of Health website, “Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that appears in late childhood or adolescence. Instead of growing straight, the spine develops a side-to-side curvature, usually in an elongated “S” or “C” shape; the bones of the spine are also slightly twisted or rotated.”
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) affects about 5.2% of children and adolescents and is the most common spinal disorder in the age group. When severe, AIS is treated medically with spinal surgery. This type of surgery is a very involved process that should only be used in the most severe cases and after all other methods have failed. Conservatively, AIS is treated using physical therapy, exercise, bracing and chiropractic. The goal of care for AIS is to stop the curve from getting worse or to reduce the curvature if possible.
In this case, a 15-year-old girl, who had been diagnosed with AIS, was brought to the chiropractor. In addition to her scoliosis, she was also suffering from chronic left-side body pain, lower back pain, and headaches. Her body pain was made worse when she would sit for more than 45 minutes. She rated her headaches as a 6 out of 10, with 10 being the worst.
A chiropractic examination was performed which showed multiple areas of tenderness on palpation of her spine. The girl also had reductions in a number of her spinal ranges of motion, and her posture showed a forward projection of her head. Spinal x-rays were taken and a measurement of her scoliosis was made. Her curvature measured 27.3° using a standard measuring system for scoliosis known as the “Cobb angle.” Stress film x-rays were also taken to view how the girl’s spine reacted to being in certain positions.
As a result of the examination, specific forms of chiropractic care were started along with structural rehabilitation, traction, and home traction. After 15 weeks of care consisting of 24 in-office visits and her home traction, follow-up x-rays were taken to compare with the originals. The new films showed that her spine had improved a full 19° from an original 27.3° Cobb angle down to only an 8° Cobb angle curvature. The girl also saw significant improvement in her back pains and headaches rating them at 0 out of 10.
The study authors note that most cases of AIS will progress and worsen if left untreated. In this case, not only was the progression stopped, but the curvature and the girl’s association symptoms was improved.