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Childhood Scoliosis

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Posted on 09-30-2011

Scoliosis is the sideways curvature of the spine that can affect children when as they start adolescence. More commonly found in females, it affects about 2 percent of the population. Common symptoms are stiffness and pain. Early detection and treatment helps to lessen the severity of scoliosis.

Twisted Sister

What I commonly see is a short leg on one side of the body when viewing the child as the lay on the treatment table. Some may actually have an anatomical short leg, by the majority do not. Most people and kids with a short leg have a twisting of the pelvis. When the pelvis is twisted or torqued, it causes one side of the pelvis to twist upward and the other to twist downward, thus causing one leg to lift and appear shorter and side drops and appears to lengthen. In this article we will be discussing the children with the twisted pelvis (which is the majority).

The Sacrum

As the base of the spine, the sacrum, becomes twisted and tilted, the rest of the spine must now pitch to one side or the other in an effort to right the situation. This issue alone, can cause scoliosis. So how did the pelvis get twisted in the first place? Any falls? Accidents? Drops? Ice skating and horseback riding comes to mind, but in a young person's body the ligaments are loose and what might seem like just a small incident too many, well could have been the instigating incident that twists the pelvis toward scoliosis. If this is the case, most chiropractors can spot and treat this problem. But if all scoliosis was this simple, my job would be too easy. Let's continue.

The Atlas

Last year I learned important information about the nervous system and how the displacement of another bone, this time the atlas, can have long term effects on the body and yes even cause scoliosis. The head rests upon the neck attached to a bone called the atlas. This bone can usually move freely but sometimes can get displaced by a sliding or twisting motion to one side or the other. If dislodged far enough the bone often gets jammed. This malposition of the bone is called a subluxation. The inside portion of the atlas has an opening, through which the spinal cord passes. MRI studies have recently shown that when the atlas subluxates, the inside rim of the bone often touches the spinal cord.

Atlas Subluxation, Spinal Nerve Tracts, and Muscle Spasms in the Back

The spinal cord is comprised of bundles of nerves, called nerve tracts, that come from the brain and exit all the way down and through the spine (through openings between the vertebra know as foramen). These nerves connect to and control all functions of the body. Muscles included. One of the areas that is often effected by an atlas subluxation is the corticospinal tract. This nerve tract connects to and controls the back muscles. When the atlas touches these nerves they become irritated (facilitated), which causes them to become excited and fire without your conscious control. Since only one side is being irritated, this process creates asymmetrical lifting and twisting of the back. Hmm, sounds like scoliosis doesn't it.


I will go over treatment protocols in an upcoming article, or can outline them for you via phone or office visit. Thanks for reading, and let us know if you would like to have your child checked.

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