Scoliosis is a condition that has significant awareness in the general population, although it is not accompanied by much understanding in the underlying mechanisms that bring about abnormal spinal curves. As such, there has been considerable room for treatment strategies that are unproven or even dis proven.
More recently, there has been a shift in scoliosis research towards brain based models. There is an amassing evidence suggesting that a sensory disorder may be the primary component of abnormal spinal curvatures. Proprioception (joint position sense) appears compromised in those suffering from idiopathic scoliosis along with impaired static balance and postural control. Furthermore, integration of visual and vestibular signals appear compromised in scoliosis patients, leading to problems with control when our balance is challenged.
Because of the complexity of this system, it is difficulty to say that one specific treatment works best, as the central processing mechanisms can be stimulated and assisted in many different ways. This can be through exercises, manual therapy, multiple different styles of chiropractic care and even surgical intervention.
As our understanding of spinal deformity grows, so does the appreciation for the central neurological effects of treatments such as spinal manipulation. Far from being the simplistic mechanical model of realightment, this treatment of the spine appears to influence the neuraxis at many levels. Current research in New Zealand has begun to assemble a significant amounts of data that look into this and are finding that treatment directed at the cervical spine has dramatic effects on sensorimotor integration.
Unfortunately, even with this knowledge and the ability to improve posture, balance and symmetry of spinal musculature, there is a lack of predictability. Therefore, once again, my answer would be that there is no single text book answer to what treatment works the best as it is an individuals condition that must be looked at and treated this way…
Either way, as a final remark; it is definitely time to understand that previous theories of scoliosis being due to carrying the school bag on one shoulder has long outrun its course in this current day and age.
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