Scoliosis Alternative to Surgery

Previously in this blog we have looked at the connection of the position of the head and how that relates to the rest of the spine. A recent case study demonstrates this correlation once again. Dr. Marshall Dickholtz Sr. an excellent NUCCA Chiropractor practicing in the Chicago area had a fifteen year old female patient with a history of scoliosis, vertigo, lower back pain, and lack of energy.

She had scoliosis with a Cobb angle of 44 degrees!

Standard treatments for scoliosis include (a) observation for curves Between 0-20° (otherwise known as letting it get worse), (b) bracing for 20 to 40° (brace is worn up to 23 hours per day), and (c) spinal surgery for curvatures over 40°. With this patient she would be in the surgery category. The image above demonstrates a “successful” scoliosis surgery.

In 2008, Weiss et al. concluded that evidence for conservative treatment including exercise and bracing were limited and case controlled studies did not exist supporting surgery. Bracing is definitely a difficult sell for a child. Most kids are not going to wear the brace consistently due to several factors: (a) the need to wear the braces up to 23 hours a day (b) psychological reasons related to embarrassment at school and poor body image (c) back pain and (d) lowered level of quality of life.

Additionally, as talked about in the study O’Brien et al. published that an Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis patient, in 2007, could spend more than $500,000 for 4 surgeries over a 40-year span.

So what is the alternative?

How about addressing the underlying cause of the abnormal spinal curvatures?

In this case study, a misalignment was identified in the upper neck.  These types misalignments can have dramatic affects on that posture of a growing child.  An upper neck misalignment will displace the head slightly off to one side or the other leading to compensating changes throughout the rest of the body.

NUCCA chiropractic adjusting directed at reducing misalignments in the upper cervical region were performed. Post upper cervical X-rays revealed a reduction of the Atlas misalignment. After 5 months of care, the Cobb angle was reduced to 32-degrees. A 27% decrease!

If the head is kept in that position throughout the rest of the patient’s life for a lot less than 500K what will take place?

The scoliosis most likely will continue to improve or at worst not progress any further. Our bodies are designed with an amazing ability to adapt. Moving the atlas to properly balance the head on top of the spine has a profound impact on scoliosis even with those who have suffered with scoliosis for years.

So if you or your child had been diagnosed with a scoliosis and there is a history of head or neck injuries, then an upper neck evaluation should be performed. The most vulnerable place in the spine to injure is the upper neck because it is the most movable. When accidents or injuries have torn loose the connective tissue that hold the spine in place in the upper neck it creates a weakness which allows the spine to break down and lock into a stressed position.

Once the position of the eyes have been deviated from being level with the horizon the brain will immediately initiate the righting reflex which is a reflex in the brain designed to keep the eyes level. As a result of misalignments in the upper neck and alteration of the position of the head the entire spine most compensate. If this misalignment occurs at birth or early on in life than scoliosis may develop as a result.  Independent experiments by Michelsson and Ponsetti have demonstrated that one-sided stimulation of the inner ear has resulted in scoliosis. This points to the delicate relationship between righting reflexes and spinal balance and offers an explanation to how upper cervical misalignments can produce scoliosis.

Do you want to know if you are a candidate for this type of care?

Is surgery or bracing the last thing that you want to do?

Then an Upper Cervical Chiropractor could be the answer.

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Dr. Armen Manoucherian of Health Edge Family Spinal Care in Glendale, California is a Glendale Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). He has helped many children and adults find natural relief in Glendale, California. His upper cervical clinic also serves the communities of Pasadena, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Burbank. He is uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at


Improvement in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis in a Patient Undergoing Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A Case Report-Kim B. Khauv, D.C., MPH & Marshall Dickholtz, Sr., D.C., FICPA