While scoliosis can’t be cured by any home remedies, you can significantly improve your child’s quality of life with scoliosis. By focusing on wellbeing in key areas, you can soothe pain and discomfort, as well as boost your child’s confidence in his/her physical appearance.
Let’s go deeper into these home remedies for improved quality of life with scoliosis.
Scoliosis is when the spine curves into a “C” or “S” shape. When the backbone has this curvature, it can cause back pain and noticeable appearance differences. In severe cases, it can also lead to disability, or lung and heart damage.
Generally speaking, scoliosis can be caused by neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, as well as any injuries or birth defects along the spine. Sometimes it’s also caused by an underlying condition like a tumor. Or, it could be caused by less serious issues such as muscle spasms or inflammation. If these latter conditions can be resolved in time, this type of scoliosis may go away naturally.
Otherwise the cause of general scoliosis isn’t known. What scientists do know is that scoliosis usually appears in the body right before puberty, when bones are growing at rapid rates. In addition, scoliosis usually develops more severely in girls than boys.
What doesn’t cause scoliosis?
There are a lot of myths surrounding scoliosis. Parents are often worried that scoliosis can be caused by heavy backpacks. This isn’t true! (Though you should lighten your child’s load to save them back pain.) Other myths include bad posture causing scoliosis or playing sports too often as a child. None of these activities can cause scoliosis.
What are the symptoms of scoliosis?
Sometimes scoliosis will be so mild that you don’t notice it in your child. Usually, it manifests as an “unevenness” in the shoulders, waist and hips. In severe cases, the ribs on one side of the body will stick out as well.
If you notice these symptoms in your child, especially right before puberty, you should contact a doctor for a full evaluation to understand his/her scoliosis and rule out any underlying conditions.
How’s scoliosis treated?
Depending on the degree of scoliosis, many won’t need any medical treatment at all. For those with moderate scoliosis, a brace or surgery is common, as well as twice-yearly check-ups on the growth process of the spine.
If the curves in the backbone are especially severe, show an “S” shape or are located in the central region of the spine, your doctor will likely want to intervene with a surgical treatment.
However, if your child has stopped growing, the risk of scoliosis getting worse is fairly low. This means that your doctor will likely discard a brace or operation, and focus on simply monitoring the scoliosis. Often, this is called the “wait and watch” approach.
How can I improve my child’s quality of life with scoliosis?
This five-step strategy is a comprehensive way of looking at your child’s health and growth. Depending on your child’s specific medical situation, these points can be adapted for best results.
Remember the idea with these strategies is to improve your child’s quality of life by reducing pain, strengthening muscles and gaining confidence.
- Daily stretches for pain relief
Because scoliosis makes you imbalanced, it’s important to stretch on a daily basis to aid any muscles that might be tense or shortened from use. The idea behind daily stretches is to make sure your muscles stay pain-free and don’t aggravate your scoliosis.
Stretching exercises that are helpful will strengthen your hip and shoulder muscles to be able to turn and twist with greater ease. Some of these stretches are in fact yoga poses that are great for these muscle groups.
- Child’s pose: Kneel on the floor with your hips toward your heels. Lift your arms in front of your body with your palms on the floor.
- Upward and downward dog: Starting in a plank position, move your hips back and out so that you make a “tent” with your body. For upward dog, lower your hips to the floor as far as you can.
- Chest flex: Push your arms behind your back and lace your hands together, if possible. You should feel the stretch in your shoulder blades.
- Lunges: Do lunges on both sides. Be sure to do them slowly to really feel the stretch.
- Spine: Make a “T” with your body on the floor. Then, lift your knees together and let them fall to one side of your body. Turn your head in the opposite direction. Switch sides.
- Regular exercise, especially core muscles
Studies show that regular exercise can have a positive impact on those with scoliosis. Exercise is especially important to maintain strength in your back and core, as well as general flexibility and function in your body.
In particular, exercises that improve core or trunk strength are ideal, according to a recent study that saw improvements in the severity of scoliosis. For children, playing low-impact sports or taking swimming lessons may be a good option for regular exercise that can build strength and flexibility.
- Following an anti-inflammatory diet
Again, while diet can’t cure scoliosis, it can help prevent inflammation and tension. An anti-inflammatory diet can reduce inflammatory proteins in your body and help you manage pain.
Here’s what a comprehensive anti-inflammatory diet looks like:
- Omega-3: Found in fish and nuts, omega-3 can help trigger an anti-inflammatory response and also alleviate joint stiffness and pain. If you’re looking to incorporate more omega-3 in your diet, try eating your favorite fish more often.
- Antioxidants: Eat your fruits and veggies. These antioxidant-rich foods are key to managing inflammation. If you’re looking for a big boost of antioxidants, go for leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli, as well as berries and beans.
- Fiber: Another anti-inflammatory compound. Opt for fiber-packed foods such as beans, nuts, berries and vegetables. You can also get fiber from grain-based foods like whole wheat, brown rice, bran and oatmeal.
- Extra virgin olive oil: This is the anti-inflammatory queen of the food pyramid, as it has antioxidants, healthy fats and oleocanthal. Use extra virgin olive oil instead of cooking oils, sauces and dressings.
- Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are full of gross compounds that trigger inflammation. Avoid junk food with these unnatural additives!
- Joining a support group for emotional health
The Mayo Clinic highly recommends that patients with scoliosis, especially young teens, join a support group. While this isn’t a direct impact, support groups can be a good way to emotionally handle the pressure of scoliosis and the frustration of changes in appearance.
Specifically, finding a formal support or creating close friendships can be emotionally important for your child to accept his/her medical situation and gain confidence in his/her body. This is a win-win situation for young teens facing scoliosis.
Because the science of chiropractic care is relatively new, there isn’t a lot of evidence-based support for the role of chiropractic in helping with a patient’s scoliosis symptoms and pain.
However, new evidence shows that chiropractic care helps with pain relief and may even stop the progression of scoliosis. Organizations like CLEAR are creating new guidelines on how chiropractors can create effective care plans for those who suffer from scoliosis. Recent studies show promising results for the future of CLEAR practices. Since 2004, studies on CLEAR patients showed a 37.7% percent reduction in their scoliosis severity.
The CLEAR method uses a 3-part approach that they call “mix, fit, set.” The idea behind these steps is to retrain the brain and strengthen the spine.
- Mix: In this step, licensed chiropractors warm up the spine to prepare for treatment. A combination of massage and exercises are used to make the spine flexible for treatment.
- Fix: Next, chiropractors will make adjustments to the spine. This sounds scarier than it is. The chiropractor will gently and precisely correct specific areas using specific instruments.
- Set: Finally, chiropractors will lead the patient through a series of exercises that will enhance coordination and balance. This is where the retraining process really comes to life. The hope is to create new, natural positions.
Many families are now opting to try the CLEAR method or similar approaches. There are clear benefits to using a natural-based method instead of a brace or surgery. For many young scoliosis patients, a brace can be traumatic and may not correct scoliosis properly. On the other hand, surgery doesn’t have high success rates and may cause complications. For this reason, many are turning to chiropractic methods that are safe and natural.
Trying this five-step strategy to improve your child’s quality of life with scoliosis could be a positive way to overcome pain and discomfort, as well as keep his/her body as strong as possible. Moreover, new chiropractic techniques could have a lasting positive impact on your child’s scoliosis.
- Cold, F., Health, E., Disease, H., Disease, L., Management, P., & Conditions, S. et al. (2018). An Overview of Scoliosis. WebMD. Retrieved 26 November 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/causes-scoliosis#1
- Cold, F., Health, E., Disease, H., Disease, L., Management, P., & Conditions, S. et al. (2018). An Overview of Scoliosis. WebMD. Retrieved 26 November 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/causes-scoliosis#2
- Weiss, H., Negrini, S., Hawes, M., Rigo, M., Kotwicki, T., Grivas, T., & Maruyama, T. (2006). Physical exercises in the treatment of idiopathic scoliosis at risk of brace treatment – SOSORT consensus paper 2005. Scoliosis, 1(1). doi:10.1186/1748-7161-1-6
- Ko, K., & Kang, S. (2017). Effects of 12-week core stabilization exercise on the Cobb angle and lumbar muscle strength of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. Journal Of Exercise Rehabilitation, 13(2), 244-249. doi:10.12965/jer.1734952.476
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