I have scoliosis. Most people look at me very surprised when I tell them that. But, it’s true; their chiropractor does not have a perfect spine either. I first found out that I had scoliosis as an adult when I started my first semester at Logan College of Chiropractic. This diagnosis would change my life.
All first year students have to get a complete physical exam which included spinal x-rays. After all, we were going to be practicing on each other, so we needed to make sure that we knew of any underlying problems. I had an inclination that there would be just some curvature as my sister, a physical therapist, had pointed out some slight asymmetries the summer before I started grad school. So I had the x-rays taken and the moment of truth was about to happen as the senior interns were coming out of the dark room with films. They put the films up on an x-ray view box and my very first thought was “very funny, who is that!?” It was bad. 32 degrees to be exact. I experienced a lot of emotions going through my head at the time; sadness, embarrassment, and fear of the unknown to name a few. I ended up with the mindset of gratitude for being at a top chiropractic college where I would be getting top-notch care.
I immediately started getting adjustments 2-3 times per week. There were several therapies tried on me, from electrical muscle stimulation to the muscles on the outsides of the spinal curves, to stretches with an exercise ball. After all the work, I was devastated when my second year of chiropractic school came around and a new set of x-rays showed that I had actually gotten worse. My scoliosis had advanced to 35 degrees. Seeing my x-rays this time left me wondering if there was even hope for me. Most importantly I was even wondering if chiropractic was the right route for me as a profession if I wasn’t able to get results myself.
I was even considering dropping out of chiropractic school.
I started searching for answers and I found a chiropractor in the area that had advanced training in scoliosis correction. I started working for him in exchange for spinal correction because not only could I have not afforded it at the time as a student, but I wanted to learn about the techniques he used for the spinal correction.
Ongoing x-rays showed my spine starting to change, this time for the better! The adjustments that I received for the scoliosis were very different than what I had been used to as well as the exercises I had to do. Many were one-sided exercises to counter-balance the asymmetries I had.
What was also interesting was during that time I had noticed big improvements in my athletic performance. I was an avid mountain biker at the time and my lung capacity was improving and I had far better endurance on the trails. I didn’t necessarily have back pain before finding out I had scoliosis; however, the best way I can describe how I feel now is better and free of restriction.
It is because of my personal experience that I have devoted myself to many hours of extra training towards understanding, diagnosing, and correcting scoliosis where possible. It was completely missed during all of my exams I had during my childhood. Every sports physical, yearly physical, school nurse scoliosis check, and even my first chiropractor when I was 14 had missed my large scoliosis. This is why my advice to parents is to make sure that their kids are getting full spinal exams by a well-qualified chiropractor at least annually throughout their development. If you are in the St. Peters, St. Charles, St. Louis, or O’Fallon area please give my office a call at 636-352-0380 to schedule you or your child’s exam.