The Physics of Scoliosis-Correcting Scoliosis without Bracing
In achieving correction of the scoliotic spine, it is important to place emphasis on correcting the loss of cervical curve, also known as cervical kyphosis or hypolordosis. Loss of the curve in your neck will cause the spine below it to buckle. Traditional medical science views the spine as a bridge connecting the head to the pelvis. If a bridge begins to collapse, the correct approach is to try to hold it together by fusing its structure. Chiropractors, however, view the spine as an engine. If the engine in your car starts to run funny, and you fuse the cylinders together, this might not solve the problem. Motion is essential for proper functioning of the spine and the associated soft tissue components.
The reason your spine buckles as the curve in your neck disappears has to do with physics. When you carry your groceries in to your house from your car, you carry the bags close to your body. Increasing the distance between your body and the bags of groceries causes an increase in the apparent weight of your burden. In the same way, holding your head forward puts a greater stress upon your spine. In fact, for every inch the head moves forward from your center of gravity, the apparent weight of your head increases by 10 pounds!
One of the easiest ways for the body to adapt to this increased load is to add another curve into the spine. If you are holding a heavy weight in your hand and flex your wrist forward, your elbow will swing out to the side to make it easier for your muscles to support the weight. With our alternative scoliosis treatment, you can correct the scoliosis without bracing.
Why does the curve in your neck disappear?
There may be many different reasons. Sometimes it is a motor vehicle crash, or an incident of trauma. More often, however, it may develop slowly, over time, as we live day-to-day. Studying in school, working at a computer, or focusing on a project on our workbench often requires that we hold our head downwards and forwards for long periods of time. Eventually, this causes the spine to slip, bit by bit, until the muscles become tight and strong. The body then begins to use these stronger muscles more than the weaker ones, reinforcing the change in posture.With the loss of the curve in your neck, the nerves that travel from the brain to every single cell in our body begin to suffer. In a straight neck, with no curve at all, the spinal cord is stretched by 10%. If the neck buckles completely, this can increase to as high as 28%! If somebody pulled on your finger until it was 28% longer, you’d probably complain about it a little.
Why do the doctors at the Scoliosis Correction Centers know that restoring the curve in your neck can help to correct a scoliosis? Well, there is research that suggests scoliosis may correct spontaneously if the tension from the spinal cord is removed:
Can Hindbrain Decompression for Syringomyelia Lead to Regression of Scoliosis? European Spine Journal, June 2000; 9(3):198-201
“ patients underwent a hindbrain decompression, and… the scoliosis was seen to improve or arrest its progression in 6.”
And other researchers have concluded that the spine adapts to a short, taut spinal cord by producing rotation in the spinal column, which will take pressure off of the nerves.
Can a Short Spinal Cord Produce Scoliosis? European Spine Journal, February 2001; 10(1):2-9
“A short, unforgiving spinal cord could produce the abnormal rotatory anatomy observed at the apex of scoliosis…”
Of course, restoring the curve in the neck is only one aspect of our unique approach to scoliosis. Rehabilitating the muscles, tendons, & ligaments is also important, as is re-training the brain to use the postural muscles more evenly. For now, we hope you understand more about how what happens in the neck can affect the rest of the spine, and why it is important not to neglect the top of the spine in scoliosis correction!
Why Scoliosis Bracing Doesn’t Work: Read an informative article by Dr. Hersh about the ineffectiveness of scoliosis braces.
CURVE PATTERNS IN IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS
“The results of these studies are known as Euler’s laws and may be used to predict the behaviour of any column of known shape and proportions. The behaviour of curved columns differs from that of straight ones and may be summarized by saying that if force is applied to a rigid curved column so as to tend to increase that curve, then no lateral deviation or twisting of the column will occur even if the force is increased until brittle failure occurs. By contrast, if force is applied so that it tends to straighten the column, then twisting and lateral bending will occur during the phase of plastic deformation.
An example of this is the ease with which a metal rod may be bent to contour it to the spine in comparison with the difficulty of straightening it thereafter. The application of these laws to spinal mechanics is clear and has been stated before. However, if a fixed lordosis is subjected to forward bending it will behave like any other curved column when it is stressed to unbend it: it will twist and bend to the side. A scoliosis must result. If a further bending force is applied, for example by asking a patient with a lordoscoliosis to touch her toes, this rotation will increase; this is the mechanical basis of the clinical test of forward bending.
The practical importance of an understanding of the underlying sagittal profile of a scoliotic spine is in its application to the treatment of these deformities. If an abnormal sagittal profile is merely converted to a different abnormal profile, as with Harrington instrumentation, then further buckling and progression of the curve may be anticipated during growth.
Here is more factual information about Scoliosis with which to make informed decisions.
- “The mortality rate (with AIS)(Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis) is 15 %”. “Individuals with Scoliosis slife expectancy is decreased by 14 years”: idiopathic scoliosis:long term follow-up and prognosis in untreated patients. J.Bone Joint Surg Am 1981 Jun;63(5):702-12
- “The effects: Reduced life expectancy, it can stunt growth and decrease pulmonary function. It’s associated with headaches, shortness of breath, digestive problems, chronic hip, knee and leg pain”. National Scoliosis Foundation.
- “The Scoliotic Group was characterized by a decrease in standing stability. Center of Mass (COM) and Center of Pressure (COP) were significantly different between the scoliotic group and the norm.” Spine 27(17):1911-1917; 2002
- Scoliosis is not only a deformation of the spinal column, it is also a disease of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system. Scoliosis is more than a 3-dimensional deformation of the spine. It also involves postural disorganization, neuro musculo-skeletal dysfunction and unsynchronized growth patterns. IS (idiopathic scoliosis) could be reinforced by a disrupted integration of vestibular and visual signals at the cortical level”. vestibular mechanisms involved in IS: Arch Ital Biol 2002 Jan; 140(1) 67-80
- “There were five times more back surface abonormalities in the blind population. These findings are compatible with a postural etiology of scoliosis in the visually impaired”. Conversely there is a decreased incidence of scoliosis in hearing impaired children”; visual deficiency and scoliosis; spine 2001, jan 1;26(1):48-52 what this means is that scoliosis is more than just a twist of the spine but something involving the vestibular system and those that are blind have a higher incidence of scoliosis because of the loss of balance etc with the loss of sight whereas those that can see but can’t hear show a decreased incidence since their balance and coordination is usually better than normal
- “After brace treatment we found slight statistically significant increase in the mean lumbar curvature, but no significant change in the mean thoracic curve.” changes in curve pattern after brace ( Boston Brace) treatment for IS. Acta Orthop Scand 2002 jun 73(3): 277-81
- “Progression of 6 degrees occurred in 74% of boys and 46% reached surgical thresholds. Bracing of male patients with idiopathic scoliosis is ineffective. Curves measuring >/=30 degrees were very likely to progress to surgery ; effectiveness of bracing male patients with idiopathic scoliosis. Spine Sep 15;26(18);2001-5
- “Since 1991, bracing has not been recommended for children with AIS at this center. If bracing does not reduce the proportion of children with AIS who require surgery for cosmetic improvement of their deformity, it cannot be said to provide meaningful advantage to the patient of the community“; adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: the effect of brace treatment on the incidence of surgery. Spine 2001 Jan1;26(1)42-7 Children’s Research Center, Dublin, Ireland.
- “The deterioration of the curves was 3.5 degrees for all surgically treated curves and 7.9 degrees for all brace treated curves. Five brace treated patients had a curve increase of 20 degrees or more”. Radiologic findings and curve progression 22 years after treatment for AIS: comparison of brace and surgical treatment with matching control group of straight individuals. Spine 2001 Mar 1;26(5):516-25
Rib Cage-Spine Coupling Patterns Involved in Brace Treatment of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis”
Aubin et al, March 15, 1997, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Sainte-Justine Hospital, Quebec.
These are some quotes from a research article that was published by the Department of Mechanical Engineering in Quebec:
- “Boston brace treatment produces complex trunk motions that tend to shift the spine and rib cage anteriorly, with little de-rotation and lateral displacement to the left, whereas ideal expected correction would be the opposite.
- A more optimal way to achieve trunk corrections could be made by applying loads laterally on the convex side and on the anterior thoracic opposite the rib hump, with a system that constrains mechanically the posterior rib hump from moving backward.”
WHY OUR SCOLIOSIS TREATMENT IS DIFFERENT!
The work we are doing is based on the fact that scoliosis is not just a spinal curvature, but involves abnormal spinal curves in the neck, as well as hip rotation. Active scoliosis patients always present to the office withforward head posture and a loss of the cervical lordosis (as seen on x-ray). In addition, there is also abnormal biomechanical malpositions of the head and neck. Therefore, before the A-P dimension of scoliosis (the lateral curve you are concerned with) can be corrected, the cervical lordosis must be re-established first. Following this correction, the lateral curve (Cobb angle) is reduced to normal or as close to normal as possible.
Average change with the work we do is a 62 % reduction (permanent, if exercises are done) of the Cobb angle. These results are achieved with a combination of specific spinal adjustments done with instruments, not by hand, specific rehabilitative procedures including proprioceptive neuromuscular re-education, muscle and ligament rehab and vibration therapy.
The scoliotic spine compresses and rotates three dimensionally, therefore it must be de-rotated, and de-compressed in order to achieve correction. At the Scoliosis Correction Centers, we use a vibration platform and vibration scoliosis traction chair as well as specific techniques to pull the Cobb angle back into proper alignment.
Please contact us for an in-depth consultation and examination to determine if our method of treating scoliosis non-surgically is right for you.
Don’t Just Watch & Wait!
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