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Thread: Can Chiropractic care cause scoliosis to get worse?

  1. #1
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    Can Chiropractic care cause scoliosis to get worse?

    I hope I don't offend anyone by this question. I have had a "stable" curve practically my whole life. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 16 with an 39* upper thoracic curve. Over the years it has varied between 36* and 41*. I started going to a chiropractor for pain (thought I would try another time - been to many in the past). My curve has ALWAYS been very stiff and I have never been able to get any adjustment in that area (no popping - only pain if they tried). My new chiropractor really got in there and crunched it (EXTREMELY painful). She told me to be patient and she would try different techniques on me. I seemed to eventually get some relief but would go 2 to 3 times per week during flare-ups and once or twice a month otherwise. I seemed to be having more flare-ups but lasting shorter times 2 to 3 weeks vs. a month or more. The upper part of my spine eventually really loosened up where sometimes she would barely touch the skin and POW it would adjust.

    Well, I recently went to my 5 year follow-up with my orthopedic spine specialist and found out my curve is now progressive at 46*. I will most likely need surgery (I'm hoping soon) due to severe pain. I'm on very strong narcotics and muscle relaxers (fentanyl, percocet, soma, klonopin) to control the severe pain.

    Is this just coincidence that I am suddenly "progressive" or could the chiropractic care have caused this? I'm leary to go back. I have gone only once since I found out my bad news (mainly to let her know about the progression). She really didn't say anything about me progressing. I would have expected SOME sort of feedback. She is a really nice gal, so I don't want to talk bad about her. I had always thought chiropractic was quackery and she had me convinced otherwise. Now I'm confused. I'm sure it has its place, but is there anyone else out there with an opinion or information that might support that chiropractic can actually be HARMFUL to the scoliotic spine?

  2. #2
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    Question I wonder too.

    I don't think there is an answer to that question.

    In the 6th grade my mom sent me to a chiro 3 times a week. I ended up with such a severe curve. Everyone in my family has scoliosis except my dad. None of them had chiro and none of them ended up with a curve like mine. I have often wondered why I became SO much worse than everyone else.
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

  3. #3
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    I should add that I am now 41 years old.

  4. #4
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    I had an intensive course of chiropractic treatment at Clear Institute. Due to weights that were applied to the rib hump while I was on something called the Eckhart table, I believe my curve went over more to the side and became more concave on the left. When I asked the chiro about this, he told me that that's what he wanted to happen and now his goal was to move everything over to the center. Suffice it to say that I am scheduled for surgery on June 8th.

    I don't think anyone really knows for sure about these things. Can you feel any shifting? I was able to feel my back become flatter and the curve shift to the right. People say it looks better, but I'm much more lopsided

    I am 57 and have gone to several chiropractors over the years. Most were too humble to try to effect any real change and were careful with my back. I would stick with bodywork or massage. Good luck, Joy

  5. #5
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    If you were to use the logic that some have used (where anecdotal = absolute proof), chiropractic can definitely make scoliosis worse. My scoliosis got much worse (in both progression and pain) in the year in which I saw a chiropractor 3 times a week. So, that's you, me, and Karen. That's obviously more than enough proof.


  6. #6
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    This is a fascinating topic. I was diagnosed at 13. The options presented to my parents were to take the wait and see approach and hope I wasn't an invalid by the time I was an adult or to perform surgery with Harrington rods, put me in a body cast for a year and then hope I never had a car wreck because the rods could break and I would be paralyzed. Needless to say they were completely freaked out! My mom decided to try a chiropractor she had heard about that had done miracles for a friend of hers. The friend didn't have scoliosis but some other issue. I saw the chiro religiously for about 10 years. Then, as a young adult having no pain at all, I stopped going and never gave it another thought. By the time I began having pain, he had long since retired. At the insistence of my mom, I saw other chiros off and on for about 5 years but none of them helped. Duh!
    After reading the posts above, I have to wonder if my scoliosis would have progressed if I had not taken the chiro route. I know that's a question that can never be answered but it certainly is something to think about. My mom, God love her, is desperate to find something, anything, to help my pain. She's really pushing me to see a retired chiro that she just loves. He takes on a few patients at his home. According to him, 95% of his patients are scolio patients. He does "contact reflex analysis" to determine where the problems are then has you purchase all these "supplements" that help build different systems that control the pain. His "practice" is based on the teachings of another "doctor" that, in my opinion, is a quack. I could go on and on about this idiot, but will save it for another time. Not a chance in this world am I going down that road!!!! I love my mom but some times she's just a little out there!
    I am the only one in my immediate family with scoliosis and as far as I know, none of my aunts, uncles or cousins have it so I do not have anyone close to compare to. As I said above, I have to wonder where I would be now if I had never gone to the chiro. Something to ponder.
    Becky
    51 years old
    Married 28 years
    3 kids ages 23, 21 and 17
    Fused T-10 through L-5 June, 2008
    Developed junctional kyphosis, flat-back and sagittal imbalance
    Revision Surgery June 27, 2011
    Fused T-4 thru S-1 with pelvic anchor screws
    Take 2 revision October 15, 2013 to locate source of continued pain
    Pseudoarthrosis at L-3, 2 screws removed

  7. #7
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    I guess I am pretty convinced that the chiropractor did more harm than good, although her 'intentions' were only the best. I really think that someone out there should collect some data of scoliosis outcomes with and without chiropractic. It makes me sad to think that I was SOOO desperate to try to control the pain without meds that I actually opted for a treatment that caused me harm. Randomized samples are really hard to get, but if it could be done and it be PROVEN that chiro is harmful for this one condition, then chiropractors could be educated on how to handle or NOT handle these cases. I know that the chiropractic "theory" that is taught is that ALL diseases stem from subluxations of the spine. We simply know that is not true. But on the other hand there are some really good chiro's out there that do help some people. My chiropractor is really good in the sense that she is humble enough to realize that there are just some things she can't help and will refer to regular MD's and PT's etc. I was working in conjunction with my regular MD. I would get the pain meds from him during a flare-up and "dope" myself up for lack of better words so that I could get my adjustments. I guess if it hurt that bad to be manipulated, it should have clued me in. Hind sight is always 20/20. Maybe the good that will come of this is that my scoli is finally bad enough to operate on - or soon will be- and the surgery will bring me the much needed pain relief. At least that's what I'm hoping! Thank's for all the replies on this topic. Keep them coming. I know there has to be some research people that visit this forum that may have some statistical information.
    You all have a great day!

  8. #8
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    Rohrer...

    To be honest, I don't think any of us trust the chiropractors who would have the financial incentive to conduct an RCT, to actually produce a study that we could trust. (If you catch my drift!)

    And, while the anecdotal evidence you've read about above leads you to believe that you were hurt by chiropractic care, there's actually zero proof of that.

    Hopefully, some day we'll actually know.

    Regards,
    Linda

  9. #9
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    You know, it's funny. Some of us saw chiro's when we were younger BECAUSE of our scoliosis; and some of us avoided chiro's BECAUSE of our scoliosis.

    I was in the 2nd group. It just didn't make sense to me to have someone messing around with me back that was messed up to begin with. And I didn't start having pain until a few years prior to surgery.
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  10. #10
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    About the control study, I would NEVER trust one conducted by strictly chiro's, MD's, ortho's, neuro's, etc. It would have to consist of a randomized study that included them ALL done by a non-biased outside source. While I have my suspicions that my curve may have been "broken-loose" by the adjustments, you are absolutely right in that I have NO proof. It could just be my age and the disease itself finally progressing. It would be nice to know what the best treatment is, though, so we know how to take care of our children and ourselves. Thanks for all the input!

  11. #11
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    I am actually tempted to make an chiro appointment tomorrow. Don't know why? I'm hoping for some relief not given by drugs, but I'm on them anyway. It would probably just lay me up for another day or two. I'm nuts! I need reinforcements here. She's just so "nice" and I know she would NEVER intentionally hurt anyone. She catches so much flack from the medical community, I feel sorry for her.

  12. #12
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    Chiro as massage might help some folks. But...

    Chiro is not a science.

    Chiro is not based on neurology, anatomy and physiology.

    Chiros are not doctors of the nervous system.

    There is no evidence chiro improves health and quality of life.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=59

    From that article:

    Chiropractic is not a science, but that doesn’t mean that nothing they do is based on science. There is evidence that spinal manipulation therapy is effective for some kinds of low back pain. It is no more effective than other treatments for low back pain, but is a viable option for patients who prefer it. It is not exclusive to chiropractors, but is also used by physical therapists, physiatrists and doctors of osteopathy. In essence, the one “claim to fame” that chiropractors have is not really anything uniquely chiropractic but is a manual therapy shared with other disciplines.

    There are a few chiropractors like Samuel Homola, author of Inside Chiropractic, who limit their practice to short-term treatment of musculoskeletal problems, who reject the subluxation myth, and who try to provide rational, evidence-based care. I respect them, especially the ones who have been attacked by their colleagues for speaking out in favor of science and reason.
    ---------------

    Furthermore, chiros should not be treating scoliosis in adults and especially not in children... note to Clear...

    http://www.chirobase.org/17QA/scoliosis.html

    http://www.chirobase.org/17QA/lifetime.html

    The chiro section of Quackwatch seems to have gotten so large that they had to create another area, Chirobase, to hold the wackiness.

    There are honest chiros. But finding one may be akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
    Last edited by Pooka1; 03-29-2010 at 07:17 AM.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  13. #13
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    Even though I have my doubts about chiropractic. I must say in their defense. They go through just as much schooling as an MD. I have a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology (a one-up on the pre-meds). There were those in my major going on to colleges of Chiropractic. They study the human body very in depth and do a LOT of cadaver work, just like MD's. So as far as how much actual science is behind it, I'm not sure. The one thing that stands out in my mind during my university days (graduated in 2003) is that the more you learn, the more you know you DON'T know. No one, as far as I have ever heard really knows what makes the "popping" noise when we pop our joints. There are theories, but no one can prove or say for sure. It does make scientific sense that if a nerve is pinched by a subluxation and is freed, then you would get better flow of signals to the brain. However, I will NEVER believe that ALL illnesses are caused by subluxations of the spine. That is just rediculous. Many people do benefit by adjustments, so there has to be some science behind it, unique to chiropractors or not. I am just wondering if scoliosis should be one of those "hands-off" things for chiropractors, since SO much is involved. It angers me when I hear chiros say they can cure it, because the cold hard facts are that they can't. However, I think I have a more balance view of their place in healthcare. They are not all bad. And just like any other "professional" some have egos that get in the way of their work. Others are humble. I think that whatever the "profession" is, a humble person most always does a better job because they realize their limitations. Maybe I'm rambling, but I don't think I will continue to have my daughter see the chiro for her scoliosis, but maybe for other things like headaches.
    I actually sprained my ankle this winter and the chiro adjusted my ankle and it felt tremendously better. I would have never thought. We all have our opinions. I just like to share them. I feel that the better informed we are, the more choices we have to make the best decisions for ourselves. You all have a great day!
    Last edited by rohrer01; 03-29-2010 at 08:53 AM.

  14. #14
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    Oh, and thank you for your articles. I think I will search the nih and/or cdc databases and see what I can come up with. I will post what I find.

  15. #15
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    Rohrer, I agree with your conclusions. Chiropractic definitely has its place in health care and has been helpful to many. Looking back after 57 years and after seeing many chiropractors, I would be very wary of having my spine adjusted, since overall it seems to have done more harm than good. That's just my anecdotal experience. Take care, Joy

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