As the twig is bent, so grows the tree

By SANDRA GENEST-BOUDREAU [email protected]

Sandra Genest-Boudreau is French-Canadian, who graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1990 before coming to the Algarve in 2002. She spent 10 years in a house practice in Québec city and two years in Vancouver. She is passionate about adjusting all her patients, particularly children.

When looking at a healthy spine from the back, it should appear in a straight vertical line. When scoliosis is present, the spine shows an abnormal deviation, usually made of two curves. The primary curve appears in one direction and the compensatory curve appears in the opposite direction. This makes the spine appear in an “S” shape.

Scoliosis affects less than one in 100 of the general population. It can appear at any age but it seems to mainly affect teenagers. Girls are seven times more likely than boys to have a significant, progressive curve that would require treatment.

Early detection of scoliosis is essential because, during the growth years, these spinal curves can progress up to 10º per year. It has been shown that the youngr the age scoliosis appears, the greater the risk of it evolving rapidly and into a greater deviation.  Once the curves are fully developed, as an adult, the correction becomes more difficult and serious complications are more likely to occur.

A scoliosis of the spine may be due to a shorter leg, an abnormal bone deformity or may be a response to acute pain. Most of the cases are called idiopathic scoliosis, which make up for 80 per cent of all scoliosis. The term idiopathic simply means that their cause is unknown. A hereditary predisposition to scoliosis is probable but not always present.

There are a few clues that can lead to suspect the presence of a scoliosis. An alert parent may notice that clothes fit poorly because of a higher shoulder or a lower hip. Another clue is the way the shoes are unevenly worn out. Scoliosis may not cause any symptoms but the child may complain of fatigue, especially postural fatigue while standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. They may report back pain, headaches or pain in the knees and ankles. In severe cases, the compression from the deformed spine and thoracic cage can affect interior organs like the lungs and the heart.

Chiropractors around the world are seeing younger and younger patients complaining of back and shoulder pain. School-aged children often burden their spine carrying heavy backpacks filled with books and supplies. There is no direct correlation between carrying heavy back-packs and scoliosis but there is a growing concern.

Make sure your children use both shoulder straps of their back-packs so the weight is evenly distributed. Weigh their bag and make sure it doesn’t exceed 10-15 per cent of their body weight. We also recommend the use of a waist strap to distribute the load on the hips and reduce the strain on the back.

If a scoliosis is detected, your chiropractor is trained to determine which approach is best recommended. They may also include exercise and postural advice. In severe cases, your chiropractor may refer you to other types of doctors.

The best way to correct scoliosis is early detection and prevention. Getting your children examined by a chiropractor may be the key for early detection of any spinal problems.

Remember, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree!

Sandra Genest-Boudreau can be contacted to make an appointment or for questions on (00351) 282 341 311 or by emailing [email protected]. Alternatively, visit the Lutz Quiroprática website by clicking the link on the right of this page.