Study Shows Chiropractic Effective for Adult Scoliosis Patients


Adult scoliosis encompasses a broad group of individuals who have varying causes of their spinal deformity.  These include idiopathic scoliosis, with its onset in childhood but presenting with pain and worsening deformity in the adult.  Other causes include congenital anomalies that arise in-utero, degenerative scoliosis caused by disc degeneration, post traumatic scoliosis (occurring as a result of fractures of the spine), and neuro-muscular scoliosis often seen in patients with polio, muscular dystrophies, or other neuromuscular disorders.


Symptoms of Scoliosis

Back pain is the primary symptom of adult scoliosis, especially in lumbar scoliosis. However, if the scoliotic curvature involves the thoracic spine, and is severe, the patient may experience breathing difficulties, and the function of the lungs and/or heart may be compromised. In some cases where the thoracic curvature is small, back pain may be thought to be caused by spinal osteoarthritis.

In older patients, scoliosis occurs due to asymmetric degeneration caused by wearing through the faccet joints and intervertebral discs.  A feature of degenerative scoliosis is micro-instability. There is often forward, lateral and rotational slippage of vertebrae on vertebrae. Motion between these degenerative levels is often painful. If the changes in the spine are such that the curve coincides with narrowing of the spinal canal, one or more nerve roots may be pinched, resulting in spinal stenosis and leg pain.


Participants in the Study

Adult patients with scoliosis who presented to 1 of 2 private medical clinics within the same 2-year period were selected for this study.  The average beginning primary Cobb angle for patients was 44° ± 6°.

A retrospective chart review was conducted at 2 spine clinics in Michigan, USA. Each clinic uses the same chiropractic rehabilitation program to treat patients with adult scoliosis. Multidimensional patient outcomes included radiographic, respiratory, disability, and pain parameters. Outcomes were measured at baseline, at end of active treatment, and at long-term follow-up.

Patient files were consecutively selected if they met the following criteria: (1) patients were at least 18 years of age and a Risser 5, (2) patients had a negative history for spinal surgery, (3) the patient completed his/her prescribed treatment program, (4) patients who had returned to the clinic for a 24-month long-term follow-up, (5) patients who gave written informed consent to use their data, and (6) patients who exhibited Cobb angles of at least 30°. Patients were specifically excluded if they had a history of neuromuscular disease or bony anomalies such as a hemivertebra or if they did not present for long-term follow-up. Patients who did not complete all of the outcome assessments were also excluded.


Results of the Study

Looking at the Cobb angle measurements, a mean of 10° ± 9° of reduction was observed across all curvature groups. The QNPS scores improved by 39% after 6 months and further improved by another 21% at 24-month follow-up. Disability scores on the FRI improve from a baseline of 60% disability to 30% disability at 6 months and 18% disability at 24 months. Spirometry measures also increased by 7% and were maintained at 24 months.


Chiropractic and Scoliosis

This study highlights how chiropractic’s conservative treatment can help a patient with scoliosis, without the risks of other avenues of care such as surgery.  No other healthcare specialty spends as much educational time devoted to the human spine as chiropractic does.  As such, chiropractors are able to effectively take care of your spine and the muscles surrounding your spine.

As experienced chiropractors in Augusta GA, we have had great success with our scoliosis patients, many of whom were told surgery was their next step.  With our customized treatments, we can tailor your care specifically for your type of scoliosis.


The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.

Augusta GA Chiropractor Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized treatments. Visit our main website at for chiropractors in Augusta GA and chiropractors in Evans GA that provide customized care.

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