What is the Best Scoliosis Treatment in Orange County?
Finding the best scoliosis treatment in Orange County for you (ie: scoliosis surgery, scoliosis brace, scoliosis exercises, physical therapy or chiropractic for scoliosis) begins with first better understanding the particulars of the curvature of your spine. While surgery may be the best option for some patients, the majority of people with scoliosis can benefit from non-surgical (or conservative) scoliosis treatments that are well researched in the medical literature.
Here is a list of things you should know about your scoliosis to help find out if comprehensive scoliosis treatment that is right for you.
Scoliosis with an onset between 3 and 10 years of age. The earlier the onset of a scoliosis and the larger the curvature, the greater the likihood that it will progress without intervention, so it is important to begin treatment as early as possible in the process to provide as much stability as you can to avoid surgery later in life.
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS)
Scoliosis of an unknown cause. This is the most common type of scoliosis and can progress very
rapidly during their major growth spurts around puberty (between 11 – 15 years old) The best time to start treatment is before the growth spurt but starting later still has benefit.
Scoliosis in adults can be a carry-over
from an adolescent idiopathic scoliosis or it can be an adult onset of scoliosis. Conservative scoliosis treatment can help adults with scoliosis, especially in the area of scoliosis pain and to improve the quality of life for the adult with scoliosis
Type of Scoliosis
A single curvature in either the thoracic or lumbar spine
A scoliosis curving to the right side
A scoliosis that also has a “hunchback” component
A scoliosis that curves to the left
A scoliosis limited to the lumbar spine
A rotation of the scoliosis that occurs to some degree in the majority of cases
A scoliosis limited to the thoracic spine
A scoliosis with the apex at the thoracolumbar junction
S- Curve Scoliosis
A double scoliosis with curves in both the thoracic and lumbar spine
A scoliosis that is secondary to another problem in the body (the brain, upper neck, pelvis or lower extremity uneveness.
Usually asymptomatic, especially in adolenscence but often becomes symtomatic in adulthood secondary to degerative changes
- Breathing DifficultiesEspecially true when the rib cage on the inside of the curve becomes compressed and does not allow for expansion of the lungs
- Vascular ChallengesCan also occur as a result of rib compression but also due to pectus excavatum or a compression of the ribs at the strenum that compresses on the heart
- Disfigured SpineAs scoliosis progresses the spine and rib cage rotate in relation to the shoulders and pelvis causing dysfigurement of the spine.
Scoliosis Related Conditions
- Upper Neck Problems – Atlas misalignment can cause a functional scoliosis or contribute to the progression of a structural scoliosis
- Pelvic Distortions – An apparent or true leg length discrepancy that can cause or worsen a scoliosis
- Leg Length Discrepancies – Difference in leg length from right to left. Apparent is measured at the feet and is usually due to pelvic imbalances. A true leg length deficiency means one leg is anatomically shorter than the other
- Foot Problems – Flat feet or other problems that lead to torsion of the lower extremities and pelvis can contribute to a structural scoliosis or be the cause a functional scoliosis.
- Vestibular Problems – Problems with mechanism of balance between the eyes, ears and brain can result in a functional scoliosis or lead to a structral scoliosis.
Degree of Scoliosis
(10-25 degrees) – This is the best the time to begin treatment since it is when a scoliosis is most correctable
(26-40 degrees) Once a curvature passes 30 degree mark gravity begins to takes advantage of it and can cause it to progress at a slow rate of about a degree per year, unless something is done to stablize the spine
(>40 degrees) Once a curvature passes 40 – 45 degrees surgery is often recommended. Larger
curvatures can be reduced non-surgically but the larger the curvature, the more difficult
The first step in the evaluation process for scoliosis is to gather pertinent information about past history (ie: family history of scoliosis, scoliosis cause (if any), has there been progression over time, pain patterns (or no scoliosis pain).
Clinical examination is performed to evaluate the patients overall structural integrity and functional capacity. The degree and location of postural distortion (tilt and rotation of the spine, coronal and sagital drift, head tilt, leg length and flat feet. Muscle spasm and weakness are also assessed around the spine and other postural muscles.
Recent full spine x-rays are the easiest way to evaluate the structural intergity of the spine. If recent x-rays are not available, we take them utilizing a special digitized x-rays unit (significantly lowers dose of radiation) that allow us to evaluate the patient’s exact degrees of spinal curvature in the weight bearing position by measuring the Cobb Angle (Measures Degrees of Curves), center of gravity, apex of the curves, etc. using a state-of-the-art digitized x-ray analysis program. This allows us to be able to accurately assess improvement from before and after treatment.
Since we check the progress of the correction periodically we prefer not to continually irradiate a growing child so we utilize an FDA
approved device to evaluate the curvatures called Raster Stereography. This allows us to evaluate the progress in scoliosis treatment without subjecting the patients to harmful radiations. It is widely used, since 1996, in scoliosis clinics in Germany and other European countries by orthopedic doctors and surgeons, chiropractors, dentists, osteopaths, research medical facilities and universities.
The Formetric works by using a harmless white light to deliver a fast (40 milliseconds) high-definition optical measurement of the surface of the back to produce graphical, clinical and analytical information on the spine, the pelvis and posture — without the need for radiation or intrusive measures.
Once this information has been obtained then we will have a solid idea if the patient is a candidate for non-surgical scoliosis treatment.
Corrective Movement Scoliosis Treatment in Orange County
With most adult scoliosis before lasting correction can be obtained in scoliosis you first must work with the challenges of the existing structures to help them remodel back to a more normative state. The process that got them to their abnormal state that resulted in the structural changes known as scoliosis were best summarized by Thomas Myers, noted body works specialist and author of the highly regarded book called Anatomy Trains (Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists) states :
In other words chronic changes in the movement patterns of the body over time can cause changes in the structure of the spine (ie: scoliosis). This is especially important to address when treating adults with scoliosis as they often have longstanding degenerative changes and associated soft tissue adhesions that can compromise nerves and cause pain.
So before making postural corrections to rebalance the muscular components involved in scoliosis it is important to make changes in the structural components that have been adversely affected by scoliosis. The process of restoring proper function to the body is one called “retracing” and it requires that you take the body back through the same pathway it took to get where you are today, just in the reverse pattern.
Comprehensive Scoliosis Treatment
For this reason we utilize a comprehensive scoliosis treatment approach to help with scoliosis that includes the following:
- Active Release Techniques for Scoliosis
- Nu Schroth Method of Scoliosis Exercises
- Flexible SpineCor Scoliosis Brace
- Specific Chiropractic Adjustments for Scoliosis
- Vestibular Testing and Treatment for Scoliosis
- Custom Orthotics and Shoe Lifts for Scoliosis
When a scoliosis has become chronic (as in adult scoliosis) it is important to first warm up and rehabilitate the shortened connective tissues and other the structures around the spine. By using Active Release Techniques for scoliosis to loosen shortened the specifically shortened connective tissues surrounding the postural muscles of the spine, thus preparing these muscles to be lengthened and strengthened.
This can be achieved manually or with the use of a specialized Flexion/ Distraction table designed to elongate and unwind the spine as the ART is applied to the shortened postural muscles. This table is equipped with specialized corrective harnesses that to isolate the abnormal lateral curvatures of the spine that need to be restructured and pulled back into correction. This also help rehabilitate the discs of the spine that have become somewhat rigid and inflexible due to the structural changes associated with the chronic scoliosis.
The next type of corrective movement therapy we employ is a Nu Schroth Method of scoliosis exercises that are designed to lengthen and strengthen the specific muscles on the inside of the curvature that have shortened and weakened. This method is best descirbed as a specfic physical therapy for scoliosis designed to help stabilize and reduce scoliosis curvatures.
It does this by helping reshape the rib cage and de-rotate the spine with breathing techniques and isometric exercises. Based on a simple and elegant idea of body blocks where the shoulder girdle, torso and pelvis are opposing blocks, each rotating against the other, creating the 3 dimensional deformity associated with scoliosis. The Schroth Method uses mobilization techniques designed to expand the flat areas of the ribcage, while de-rotating the spine with breathing. These exercises are done in a wide variety of functional positions including sitting, standing and walking.
Gait retraining exercises are utilized to re-educate the muscular patterning of the body that will eventually become the new default pattern. While these exercises are taught by our trained therapist in our scoliosis treatment facility in Orange County, they are then intended to be done by the patient at home on a regular basis. This phase of care is critical to providing lasting changes in the body and prevent relapses of the old patterns of movement that lead to the scoliosis.
While scoliosis specific exercises are quite helpful for both adolescents and adults, it is important to carry over these corrected movement patterns into ones daily activities. Patients are encouraged to become more aware of their posture and consciously correct it during the course of their normal daily activities but often, this is not enough.
* We are the only providers of the Schroth Method of scoliosis treatment in Orange County.
The dynamic SpineCor scoliosis brace is a uniquely designed orthosis that moves with the body to help establish corrective movement patterns when the patient is doing their usual and customary daily activities. Unlike most scoliosis braces that are considered static braces which immobilize the spine, the Spinecor brace is a dynamic soft brace for scoliosis was specifically designed to allow for corrective movement while it is being worn. This is a revolutionary idea which has set the Spinecor brace apart from other bracing methods. In fact, SpineCor should probably not be called a brace as it acts more like a corrective movement orhtosis than a restrictive brace.
[embedit snippet=”SpineCor Video”]
Since SpineCor is a custom made orthosis, finding a provider with considerable experience in fitting the brace to your particular scoliosis curve pattern is essential. Our doctors are among the most experienced SpineCor provides in the U.S., fitting hundreds of braces each year, while most other providers only fit 3-4 braces a year.
In addition, our doctors helped develop modifications of the SpineCor brace for treatment of scoliosis is adults. SpineCor was originally developed by 2 orthopedic surgeons in Canada that were given a $12 million dollar grant to study scoliosis. One of the major innovations to come out of their research was the SpineCor brace. In fact, with 20 years of scoliosis brace research backing it is the most well supported scoliosis brace in the world.
While chiropractic treatment alone for scoliosis has not been found to be effective in reducing curvatures, yet a program that incorporates specific adjusting to key segments of the spine can be beneficial for helping soft tissue adhesions and nerve root irritation in scoliosis, especially in adults. The key for success is to only adjust segments, in a non-force way, that can adversely effect the overall posture of the spine, like the atlas or the pelvis.
Generalized adjustments to the spine, especially when applied to the apex of the curvatures can actually worsen the scoliosis, because the apex of the curve is considered an unstable segment and should be avoided when adjusting the spine, according to Dr. Christine Coillard, M.D. (world renowed scoliosis speciaist and co-developer of the SpineCor brace).
Yet, gentle chiropractic techniques as Atlas Orthogonal, NUCCA or Grostic can be very benficial for treatment of a functional scoliosis by avoiding adjusting the apex of the curvatures and only adjusting segments that can contribute to the scoliosis, such as the atlas or pelvis.
Keeping Your Eyes on the Horizon is More Than Just a Metaphor
Keeping your eyes on the horizon is an important part of your brain function. People who are prone to sea sickness know this quite well. It is one of the few things they can do naturally to help ward it off. Keeping your eyes level is an important part of your balance and your body will adapt itself to make this happen so your brain can stay happy.
For instance, if the atlas is out of alignment and the head is unleveled then the “righting mechanism” of the brain that requires our eyes to maintain a level with the horizon will cause the spine to adapt (curve to the side) to allow the eyes to remain level. Restoring the position of the atlas can allow the head to return to a neutral (orthogonal) position, thus releasing the need for the spine to distort in compensation.
[embedit snippet=”Atlas Orthogonal for Scoliosis”]
Our doctors that specialize in Scoliosis Treatment in Orange County can provide such treatments, when indicated.
- Vestibular Function and ScoliosisThe vestibular apparatus of the brain and inner ear is a complex equilibrium system that balances the body and can also contribute to a scoliosis curvature with a simular adaptive mechanism as mentioned above. Our doctors screen for such abnormalities and if there appears to be an issue we provide additional diagnostic evaluation and treatment to help resolve the issue.
- Custom Orthotics and Shoe Lifts for ScoliosisWhen the pelvis is unlevel it can also cause the spine to compensate to keep the eyes at a level, thus restoring the balance in a pelvis can also be an essential part of scoliosis treatment. Whether the imbalance is from an apparent leg length discrepancy, a true leg length deficiency or a fallen arch of the foot, it must be restored in order to bring balance back to the spine. To do this our Orange County scoliosis treatment specialist will evaluate this to determine if a corrective lift or custom orthotic may be necessary to help balance the spine.
Scoliosis Treatment Alternatives provides comprehensive scoliosis treatment in Orange County. Caution: Do not be fooled by imitators who claim to offer comprehensive care but do not. Be sure to call the phone number at the top or on the bottom of this page to insure you are truly getting the complete scoliosis treatment in Orange County that you are seeking.
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To find out if you may be a candidate for one of our scoliosis treatments give us a call at
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