The definition of chiropractic is necessary in order to answer this question. Chiropractic is defined as a profession that chiefly deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and conditions of the neuro-musculoskeletal system. The standard procedures performed in a chiropractic office include spinal manipulation (mobilization of spinal synovial joints), massage, and exercise therapies which tend to be similar to physical therapy and include active strengthening and stretching. Chiropractors have no formal training in the diagnosis or treatment of scoliosis, other than the mention of it in text books and general screening procedures their scope is fairly limited which is no different from general medical practitioners. There is no current literature that supports the use of spinal manipulation in the treatment of scoliosis. Massage and back exercises seem to be extremely limited and the effectiveness is controversial.
There has been only one study that demonstrated the effectiveness of spinal manipulation and the treatment of scoliosis published in 2004 by Mark Morningstar DC titled “Scoliosis Treatment Using a Combination of Manipulative and Rehabilitative Therapy: a Retrospective Case Series”. This study is really the beginning of chiropractic’s involvement in the treatment of scoliosis, in terms of actual certified chiropractic scoliosis specialists. The reason this study is important is because the rehabilitative therapy actual refers to spinal weighting protocols and not physical therapy kind exercises that one would be prescribed and perform from a sheet of paper or DVD. Spinal weighting is a form of neuromuscular retraining that involves the placement of weight on the patient’s hips, shoulders, or head in order to cause a shift in the center mass by the righting reflexes which in turn alters the spine’s alignment. As this theory was probed and clinicians began applying it to scoliosis patients it was soon discovered that much more research was needed based on occasional and inconsistent long-term results.
It wasn’t until recently that major advancements are being made in the application of new spinal weighting procedures that are now starting to produce meaningful consistent reductions in both moderate and harsh spinal curvature groups in addition as nearly eliminating smaller curves before they become progressive. There are only a limited number of chiropractors that have been trained to properly perform these protocols and who understand them well enough to produce long-term reductions in moderate and harsh situations of idiopathic scoliosis. The combination of spinal manipulation, softening the tissues surrounding the spine with the use of specialized continuous passive motion equipment, and this new inventive spinal weighting system featuring the scoliosis cantilever, vibration platforms, and balance discs has allowed the chiropractic profession to get in the ring and be a authentic scoliosis treatment option for patients.
Standard chiropractors should not be treating scoliosis in order to attempt to stop progression or stabilize idiopathic scoliosis in children. Chiropractic scoliosis specialists who have the proper training and knowledge base using the above mentioned approach or carry progressive training in similar rehabilitation are certainly qualified to co-manage and treat children with idiopathic scoliosis. Be sure to do a thorough investigation when choosing a chiropractic scoliosis specialist.