In today’s world of insurance-driven health care, face time with the actual doctor is becoming more and more limited, and time to ask questions — let alone get an answer — is practically non-existent. It is no wonder the idiopathic scoliosis condition is wrought with confusion and misinformation. While the list of misconceptions regarding idiopathic scoliosis is likely endless, below are six the ScoliSMART doctors feel are important enough to be called out.
Scoliosis Fact #1
Small Curves Respond to Treatment Better Than Bigger Curves
This should seem rather obvious, but it has become frustratingly clear this knowledge isn’t being put into clinical practice as the standard watch-and-wait methodology continues to be recommended for mild and moderate scoliosis curves. In fact, a success rate published by the doctors of ScoliSMART reported an impressive 93% success rate when their treatment approach was introduced in curvatures less than 50 degrees.
Scoliosis Fact #2
Scoliosis Back Braces Can Make the Rib Hump Worse
The concept of rigid braces has literally been around since 1575, and while the brace designs have certainly improved since that time, the concept of forced “correction” with the brace has not.
It is important to understand that back braces do not apply their compressive force directly to the spine. The forces must travel through the soft tissue, intestines, and the rib cage to passively push the spinal curve into a straighter position. The rib cage (being round) simply flattens out the angle of the ribs even more when compressed, thus actually increasing the amount of spinal deformity it is intended to prevent.
Scoliosis Fact #3
Scoliosis Can, and Often Does, Progress After Patients Are Done Growing in Adulthood
Many patients are erroneously informed their scoliosis will not continue to get worse after they are done growing, and for patients with curves less than 25 degrees that may be true prior to menopause; however, curves over 25 degrees have a 68% risk of slow and steady curve progression in adulthood (especially as they approach menopause).
This risk of adulthood scoliosis curve progression can be mitigated with proactive rehabilitation protocols like the Adult ScoliSMART BootCamp or ScoliSMART Activity Suit, in addition to maintaining healthy bone metabolism with Scoli StrongBone Formula.
Scoliosis Fact #4
Idiopathic Scoliosis Is Rooted in Family Genetics
Recent research breakthroughs conducted by ScoliSMART Labs have uncovered 28 functional genomic variant groups believed to be the root cause of the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis condition. These genetic variants affect the gene’s ability to produce adequate amounts of critical compounds, including enzymes, vitamin absorption at the cellular levels, and even normal neurotransmitter/hormone production.
Most patients don’t notice these disturbances on a daily basis (either because they are minor or have always been the baseline for normal for that person), but these undetected issues can become very apparent as a patient begins rapid growth spurts in adolescence. The genetic-variant-affected genes simply can’t keep up with growth demands — particularly in the areas of brain and body communication via chemical messengers (neurotransmitters and hormones).
The end result is a mis/under-communication between the automatic postural control centers in the brain stem and the involuntarily controlled spinal alignment muscles, resulting in the spinal curvature we know as scoliosis.
Scoliosis Fact #5
Scoliosis Can and Does Cause Pain
Patient after patient continues to tell us their doctors insist scoliosis does not cause pain, yet they are experiencing pain; and they are not alone. A recent study found that 54% of adolescents with scoliosis reported pain symptoms (source) and a 50-year follow-up of untreated adults with scoliosis found 61% reported mild to moderate chronic pain (source). It isn’t readily clear if the pain reported by patients is directly related to the scoliosis condition itself, but such high correlations strongly suggest they are somehow linked. One leading theory revolves around the mis-coordination of spinal muscle firing patterns (most likely a result of altered biomechanics due to the spinal curvature), which may lead to muscle fatigue and spasms.
This could explain why the ScoliSMART Activity Suit is so effective at reducing scoliosis-related pain. The suit activity engages the patient’s involuntarily controlled spinal muscle groups, causing them to begin firing in the normal coordinated patterns again and reducing stress on individual muscles.
Scoliosis Fact #6
Several Studies Have Found Anxiety and Depression Are More Common in Patients with Scoliosis
All of these conditions — anxiety, depression, and scoliosis — are a highly complex mix of “nature vs. nurture” but seem to have at least some traits in common. Low serotonin is commonly found in patients with depression and those with scoliosis, while high norepinephrine is linked to anxiety and also scoliosis. It is very possible idiopathic scoliosis shares a common genetic variant with each of these conditions, as well.
Scoliosis is one of the great medical mysteries with far more questions than answers; however, science still knows and continues to discover a great deal about it. Innovations in genetic variant testing, studies on neurotransmitter and hormone patterns, and a greater understanding of links between scoliosis and other common conditions will lessen the uncertainty and help patients live better lives.