Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Upper Cervical Care: Helping Kids With Scoliosis

Can you Protect your Children from Scoliosis?

By Dr. Bill Davis

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.” (see picture) According to WebMD “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 can 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.

A 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 thoroughout 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.

(Editor's note: Certainly some people, especially young people, who have head/neck misalignment and have it corrected will experience drastic improvements in scoliosis. However, please remember the objective of upper cervical care is to correct head neck misalignment that is interfering with proper brain to body communication. When this is corrected the body functions at a higher level and can often correct other problems more efficiently on its own. Please do not confuse upper cervical care as a treatment for scoliosis or any other condition, disease or symptom.)

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