Scoliosis and Chiropractic

By · Thursday, February 24th, 2011

As a Chiropractor, I’m often asked how scoliosis can affect a person’s health and well-being.  I also am often the first person to inform a patient that they have scoliosis.  That happened today in my Rancho Cucamonga office.  And more often than not, grown adults are completely unaware that they in fact have scoliosis.  So today, I’m going to share a little about scoliosis.

Scoliosis causes the spine to be unbalanced. If you have scoliosis you may eventually develop chronic muscle tension, tightness and achy pain that comes and goes. You are also at an increased risk of developing degenerative disc disease in the spine.

Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine in which the spine curves abnormally from side to side rather than being straight. Scoliosis usually starts during childhood, most commonly in girls between the ages of 10 and 14. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is “idiopathic” or unknown. Scoliotic curves can vary from hardly noticeable to painful, severe deformities. You may not even know that you have a mild scoliosis until you undergo some sort of spinal examination. All children should be examined for scoliosis by chiropractors by the age of 3.  Early detection and proper treatment are critical for decreasing severity and deformity.  Unfortunately, so many get missed.

Why Do So Many Cases Get Missed?!
My colleague in Rancho Cucamonga, Dr. Ian Porterfield, having a passion for helping children with Chiropractic care continued his education to get a fellowship in Chiropractic Pediatrics.  As part of his personal mission, he chose to volunteer his time to help local schools in Rancho Cucamonga provide scoliosis check ups for the kids.  Very quickly he discovered why so many cases of scoliosis are missed by the current screening system.

Here is what happened!  On his last volunteer screening, as the kids were herded in to the screening area, normal operating procedure.  As Dr. Porterfield was evaluating a child’s spine he gave a little extra attention as he found signs of a problem.  Then walks over the coach who then says, “Hey Doc, could you hurry it up a bit?”  I ask myself, this… if that were his kid, would he want the Doc to “hurt it up”?  I suspect not.

Here’s the problem:  First of all nurse are the ones to provide the screening.  While I love nurses (and am in fact married to one) and the work they do, their expertise as it related to the spine is limited.  Second, if you have kids in public school you know better than most, how large the class sizes are.  This presents the challenge of having too many bodies to screen in a limited scheduled days.  And so the system has to push through more kids in the same or less time.

Quality goes out the window.

Why Should the School be Blamed?
When I share this people often get upset with the system.  And then I ask them, “do you get upset with your plumber when your electricity goes out?”  And then they say, “of course not”.

Then why should be upset with our EDUCATION system to also be responsible for our children’s health?  Teachers have enough to deal with.  Our medical providers should be the ones to evaluate health issues and Chiropractors (spine specialist) should be the one to check your child’s spine.

Most Scoliosis exams for scoliosis include the Adam’s Forward Bending Test and have been adopted by many schools, whereas they test for this in physical education classes. It requires the person to bend at the waist as someone views the spinal alignment. If there is an abnormal prominence or hump we can help you. We will measure the length of the legs to determine unevenness. We also perform a range of motion test that measures the degree to which the patient has mobility at the waist.

Being check by a Chiropractor for scoliosis is really the best way to go.


Dr. Troy Don, DC QME


It’s important to be checked out by a professional. As you said, schools are for education. Early detection of scoliosis is extremely important.


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