It’s basically a curvature of the spine. Our spine is designed, looking from front to back, to be straight up and down, giving us stability this way, with gravity pushing down. It’s supposed to be curved from front to back, three major curves, which from that angle gives us some flex, some give, and some shock absorbency fighting off gravity. Well, when we get curves where we’re not supposed to have curves, going this way, then that creates weaknesses.
It also creates a loss of symmetry, which, over time, can cause faster degeneration, can cause back/neck pain, hip pain, it can affect the nerves that come out the spine that go down the legs, down the arms, can cause headaches, and can create severe musculoskeletal problems. Where does Scoliosis come from? Well, 99% of Scoliosis comes from a misalignment at the top of the neck. That other 1% can come from a deformity, which is very rare, like I said, 1%, where you have a partial vertebra that’s formed, and so your body has to bend accordingly.
It’s very rare. Majority of cases start at the neck and work their way down. What happens is it could be as early as birth trauma, but something can cause one of the upper bones in the neck to get just a little bit out of aligned, which, in turn, forces the head to tilt. It has to go with it. The head sits on top of those bones. Anywhere those bones go, the head goes with it and can force it to lean to one side or the other. The brain is designed to be level always. It has its own reflex. It’s called the righting reflex, and the purpose of that reflex is to make sure the brain’s level or parallel to the ground.
If one of these bones, like in this case, moves out a little bit to one side, that takes the head with it. The brain doesn’t like it. This bone gets stuck. The body can’t unstick it. What it does instead is it starts a chain reaction. For example, if it went to this way to get the brain level, it might cause you to pull down one shoulder, and pull up one hip. Thus, making one leg shorter than the other. This creates this potential bend of the spine. Over time, it can increase, depending on how far out of alignment the bone is in the neck. As a result of that, you end up with a low shoulder, high hip, and one leg shorter than the other.
As a result, because of the curvature, you end up with stretched contracted muscles in the neck, the upper back, and out to the shoulders. It can affect the hips. It can affect the hamstrings. It can affect your feet because now, instead of your feet walking like this, you have one leg shorter than the other, so now everything walks off kilter. It can affect your knees, your hips. If you can catch Scoliosis early enough while they’re still growing, then you can actually reverse it so that the spine can straighten out. If it happens later in life, then all you can do is keep it as balanced as possible, whatever the potential is.
I have plenty of patients with 40, 50-degree curvatures in their spine that can live a perfectly normal, asymptomatic life, but you have to manage it. You have to keep their body tuned up. You have to keep the upper bone in the neck aligned so that the spine doesn’t keep compensating, and then that’s going to pull as much stress as you can off the spine, and the body should be able to adapt. If you have Scoliosis, or if you have some degree of curvature in the spine, we don’t know how much we can straighten it, but straightening it isn’t necessarily the key. The key is to take the stress off so the body quits trying to bend and contort itself so that the spine can actually relax and not keep turning and keep dropping shoulders and raising hips.
If you can keep the head level, then the spine will level itself as much as it can level itself. In that case, most of the time, you can live a perfectly normal, pain-free life. If you have a curve in your spine, or if you have some degree of scoliosis, find an Upper Cervical doctor near you. Let them check to see if you have a misalignment in your neck that could have created the curve. If so, they’re going to restore the misalignment, getting the head level so the body quits trying to fight itself to keep that head balanced.