What Is The Cause Of Scoliosis?

Dr. Davis here from Vista CA…

The Problem

Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spine, or backbone. The spine has normal curves when looking from the side, but it should appear straight when looking from the front. According to reliable sources in about 80% of cases, the cause of scoliosis is not known. 80%! Wow that is a lot! In 8/10 of the people who have been diagnosed with scoliosis or curvature in the spine the medical profession have no clue what causes it.

Generally, the scoliosis is found when a child is examined for scoliosis in middle school. But frequently scoliosis is undetected until adulthood. Regardless, the earlier the curvature can be found the better. If it is identified at 13 years of age and it is already 15 degrees…it would have been much better to find it at 7 years of age when it was 8 degrees don’t you think? Especially if the underlying cause can be corrected and the progression of the scoliosis can be stopped. Also the earlier the scoliosis is identified the more likely the condition can be reversed.

Scoliosis has psychological consequences as well as physical consequences. Self image can be negatively impacted, especially in the formative adolescent years. Scoliosis can be so mild that an untrained eye cannot see the curve, or it can be severe enough to cause deformity. Children are often made fun of as a result of these deformities.

The physical consequences are much worse though. People with scoliosis are a greater risk of developing heart problems, breathing problems, osteoporosis, accelerated disc degeneration and spinal pain, reproductive function and pregnancy problems can be just some of the consequences associated with untreated scoliosis.

The medical approach has 3 main strategies. Wait until it gets worse! Put a brace on the entire trunk for up to 23 hours a day! Or dangerous surgery! Doesn’t sound like fun to me! Which of these approaches gets to the underlying cause?…none of them? The medical approach is focused on the effects and not the cause obviously.

The Upper Neck Connection

Two medical doctors from Europe have done extensive research into upper neck problems in newborns and how that relates to the health of children. Dr. Gutmann was researching the connection all the way back to the 1960’s… in 1987 Dr. Gutmann published his research linking the upper neck to problems ranging from scoliosis to ear infections, torticollis, colic and many other common childhood conditions.

Dr. Biedermann also has published extensively on this subject and published his findings in 1992. Between the 2 medical researchers they have studied over 1000 newborns and have observed a very high incidence of upper cervical misalignments on x-ray. Gutmann found over 80% in his study had problems in the upper neck that needed to be addressed! Birth trauma was the most common cause. Forceps delivery, vacuum extraction and even just normal birthing methods with a woman flat on her back rather than in the standing position where gravity can work, can be an extremely traumatic experience for the head and neck of a newborn.

It is reported that within the general population the incidence of Scoliosis is about 2.5% or about 25 per 1000 people. However, that is only the people who are identified as having scoliosis and it only includes those that have a 10 degree curvature or more. A 7,8, or 9 degree scoliosis can still have dramatic affects on the health of a person’s spine and body. Also many individuals have no idea that they have a curvature in their spine until adulthood. I have seen patients in my office who are in their 60’s who were unaware of a 10-15 degree scoliosis!

If the weight of the head is not balanced over the spinal column due to accidents and injuries to the upper neck this will result in postural changes including head tilt, shoulder tilt, hips uneven, and leg imbalance. The earlier the child develops this upper neck misalignment the more likely it is for them to develop a scoliosis when they hit their growth spurt.

The Solution

Early detection is the key to stopping the progression and possibly correct the scoliosis completely. All children should be evaluated after birth and regularly throughout the childhood years for the presence of an upper neck misalignment that could start this process in their spine. If a curvature is detected than the misalignment should be corrected as soon as possible. If the scoliosis is already very advanced due to lack of evaluation, than the misalignment should still be corrected and maintained and postural exercises should be given in order to prevent future progression. The longer the curvature has been there the more likely it will be to not correct completely.

If you have ever looked at young girl with Scoliosis. You will notice the position of her head…tilted over to the side…then the curve begins to compensate from there….first one way and then the other until the pelvis is seen as being lower on one side in the standing position. This is a very common pattern that develops after an upper neck misalignment at an early age that begins a cascade of events. When the top bone of the neck…the atlas is misaligned it will tilt the head off to the side…and just like standing on the side of a hill your body must compensate for the change in head position. If the misalignment occurs early enough in life than a idiopathic scoliosis will develop. Idiopathic means that the medical profession does not know what causes it. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis…approximately 80-85 % of all scoliosis is idiopathic. I prefer to call this an Atlas Misalignment Scoliosis.

Proprioceptive Problems

Disturbances of postural equilibrium (or what is called proprioception) have been found in idiopathic scoliosis, and several researchers have suggested that this is a result of brain stem disturbances. It has been shown experimentally that stress on posterior nerve roots can also cause spinal deviation.

Following a head or neck trauma one area that is commonly damaged is the proprioceptive system of the neck. Proprioception is your body’s ability to perceive your position is space. The upper cervical spine has the most dense collection of proprioceptors in the body. When these proprioceptors are damaged people tend to have an all sorts of different problems. An Upper Cervical Corrective Procedure is designed to correct this underlying cause in order to restore proper neurology and physiology to the body. This underlying proprioceptive imbalance could be another reason why Upper Cervical Care is so effective in helping those with Scoliosis.

Do you have Scoliosis? Do you know if you have Scoliosis? Does your child have Scoliosis? Don’t wait to middle school to find out…the earlier the misalignment is detected the more likely that you can have a complete correction.

References:

Yekutiel M, Robin GC, Yarom R, Proprioceptive function in children with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Spine 1981; 6(6):560-6 / Medline ID: 82153215

Biedermann H. Kinematic imbalances due to suboccipital strain in newborns. J. Manual Med (1992) 6:151-156.

Gutman, G. Blocked atlantal nerve syndrome in babies and infants. Manuelle Medizin, 1987, 25, pp. 5-10. and Gilles et al, Infantile Atlantooccipital Instability, Am J Dis Child 133:30-37, 197