Since the times of the Ancient Greeks, scoliosis has been viewed primarily as a spinal deformity. Because it has been viewed this way for so long, all of the treatments that have ever been created for it are all orthopedic, mechanical, or physical in nature. These efforts are, metaphorically, attempts to put the “toothpaste back into the tube” rather than proactive early stage identification of at-risk patients and preventative intervention.
Over the years, scoliosis patients have been stretched, tractioned, pulled, pushed, hammered, stepped on, and twisted in just about every direction imaginable. Yet there is still no cure or resolution to scoliosis. Even today, surgical techniques do not cure the scoliosis condition. Despite surgical fusion, curves still slowly increase throughout the lifespan and come with very high long-term complication rates.
For some perspective, below are just a few of the more well-circulated scoliosis therapies from around the world, and a timeline during which they were used. Notice that no matter which therapy these descriptions are depicting, none of them ever describe or illustrate anything related to genetic, hormonal, nutritional, or environmental components of scoliosis until very recently.
Timeline of Idiopathic Scoliosis and Its Treatment
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- Earliest known record of scoliosis by Hippocrates (Greece) approximately 400 B.C.
- The term “scoliosis” (literal translation “crookedness”) was invented by Galen approximately 200 A.D.
- The first back bracing attempts occurred in 650 A.D. by tying patients with idiopathic scoliosis to wooden sticks
- The initial metal scoliosis brace was created in 1575 (France)
- Jules René Guérin (French) was the first to attempt surgical intervention (1865) for scoliosis by cutting the spinal tendons and ligaments of scoliosis patients in an effort to reduce deformity and straighten the curve; results were poor
- X-rays were discovered in 1876, allowing imaging of the scoliosis spine for the first time
- In 1921, Katharina Schroth (a brace-treated scoliosis patient from Dresden, Germany) decided to develop an exercise-based concept for treating scoliosis
- Paul Harrington began using a single metal rod surgically attached at the top and bottom of the scoliosis curve in the 1950s; while it did not provide much curve reduction, it successfully slowed progression of the curve in adolescent patients
- Various braces were developed throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the most notable being the Milwaukee and Boston braces
- In the 1980s, French surgeons Cotrel and Dubousset introduced the double rod and pedicle screw hardware (used in scoliosis fusion surgeries to this very day)
- The first auto response re-training concepts and rehabilitation programs began to take shape in the early 2000s
- Surgical attempts to modulate spinal grow in skeletally immature patients with vertebral body staples and tethers began in 2009
- Research and data collection on the world’s first scoliosis activity suit began in 2011
- In 2013, Dr. Mark Morningstar addressed the SOSORT conference regarding the discovery of neurotransmitter pattern abnormalities relating to idiopathic scoliosis
- Functional genomic variant patterns, believed to be related to the cause and progression of idiopathic scoliosis, were discovered in 2019
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The Future of Treating Scoliosis: A Comprehensive Approach for Treating the Scoliosis Condition
While many theories, ideas, concepts, and beliefs regarding the cause of scoliosis align, differ, and contradict one another, the common ground among all of them is the recognition that adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a very complex condition.
Historically, scoliosis curvatures on x-ray have only been analyzed using a very archaic Cobb angle measurement system (developed by Dr. John Cobb in 1938) in which the whole scoliosis condition is summarized into the combined tilt of the most tilted vertebrae at the top and bottom of the curve. Clearly, this is inadequate and only provides physicians, parents, and patients a very limited window of information from which to make critical treatment decisions.
Cobb angle measurements of a curvature on x-ray as a sole means of determining treatment options and success/failure of treatment intervention is a critical flaw in the current management of the scoliosis condition. In order to change the future of treating scoliosis, we are going to have to start thinking about the scoliosis condition differently; it needs to be recognized that the spinal curvature seen on the x-ray is the primary and most visible “symptom” of the scoliosis condition.
Thinking About Scoliosis Beyond the Spinal Curve
It is most accurate to refer to scoliosis as a “condition” because it crosses over multiple body systems and is organized on multiple body levels affecting far more than just the spine. Genetics are the core of our body’s organization and, unfortunately, often times the genetic codes have “scratches,” called variants. These variants have a negative effect on genetic performance and cause disruption in the proteins and enzymes a particular gene may produce.
This disruption can have a profound impact on the metabolic chains that combine the genetic products together to make more complex molecules like neurotransmitter and hormones. These neurotransmitters and hormones are the communication system that allow your brain and body to “talk” to each other. The disruption in brain-to-body communication becomes very readily apparent when adolescent children with the genetic variant combination for idiopathic scoliosis begin to grow very rapidly, resulting in a spinal curvature known as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Treating the Whole Scoliosis Condition, Not Just the Spinal Curve
Here comes the good news:
These genetic variants for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis can be easily tested — non-invasively and inexpensively! The even better news is all 28 of the functional genetic variant groups relating to idiopathic scoliosis (currently identified at the time this article was written) are scientifically validated with known nutrient therapy interventions. In other words, we can easily determine which genetic “scratches” any given idiopathic scoliosis patient may have, then determine the appropriate natural supplementation they require and begin non-invasive early stage scoliosis intervention.
This technology could even be used to determine which children are genetically “high risk” for developing adolescent idiopathic scoliosis before they show any signs of developing a spinal curvature and begin nutritional therapies to make up for the genetic deficiencies with the possibility of preventing idiopathic scoliosis altogether.
It All Begins with Genetic Variant Testing and Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention
It appears the technology currently exists to identify children who are genetically “at risk” for developing idiopathic scoliosis, as well as opportunities for early stage scoliosis intervention with highly specific genetic supplementation for scoliosis and non-invasive scoliosis rehab programs; however, this will require continued and expanded research, adoption of the technology by the current mainstream medical community, and acceptance by parents and patients alike.