Scoliosis Treatment Possibilities

View the entire Possibilities for the Reduction and Correction of Scoliosis BrochureView PDF

Introduction

Scoliosis is estimated to affect 4.5% of the general population. In a nation of approximately 273 million people, this means that over 12 million cases of scoliosis exist, and almost 500 more are diagnosed each day – about 173,000 every year. According to some studies, the average scoliosis patient will suffer a 14-year reduction in their average life expectancy1. This means that if by some miracle we could eliminate scoliosis completely, this would add 168 million years of health and productivity to our society.

Clearly this is not a minor issue, but an epidemic, and one that should be taken very seriously. Finding a proven and cost-effective method of treating scoliosis should be the chiropractic profession’s top priority. Until we have done so, I do not believe that any chiropractor in the world has the right to describe themselves as “spinal experts.” There are no scoliosis experts. If there were, there would be no scoliosis patients.

The information provided here is intended to be the first step in a long journey towards coordinating the care and correction of scoliosis patients throughout the world. Please consider it carefully, evaluate the alternatives, and then make a conscious and deliberate decision on its validity. For too long, professional jealousy and the status quo have dominated all facets of the health care profession. It is time to refocus on the real reason this profession exists – to serve our patients. Let us place the health and well being of those who have been entrusted to our care before any personal considerations, and work together to find the most effective cure for every condition.

Scoliosis Surgery: the Untold Truth

Every year in the United States, roughly 20,000 Harrington rod implantation surgeries are performed on patients with scoliosis, at an average cost of $120,000 per operation. One-third of all spinal surgeries are performed on scoliosis patients.
Every year, about 8,000 people who underwent this surgery in their youth for the
correction of their scoliosis are legally defined as permanently disabled for the rest of
their lives8. Even worse, follow-up x-rays performed upon these individuals reveal that,
an average of 22 years after the surgery was performed, their scoliosis has returned to
pre-operative levels. The Harrington rods inserted into their spines will either bend,
break loose from the wires, or worse, break completely in two, necessitating further
surgical intervention and removal of the rod. Once the rod is removed, corrosion (rust) is
found on two out of every three.

After the operation is performed, the average patient suffers a 25% reduction in their spinal ranges of motion. Non-fused adult scoliosis patients do not have this same impairment. This flatly contradicts the claim that having a steel rod fused to your spine will not affect your mobility, physical activities, or quality of life. These facts are never shared with the patient prior to the surgery. Parents do not choose the Harrington rod implantation procedure because it is the best choice for their son or daughter, but rather because they are misled into believing that it is the only choice. However, many studies suggest that the side effects of the surgery are worse than the side effects of the scoliosis itself.

Consider the titles & conclusions of the following studies:

Treating Scoliosis in Young Unneeded
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Stuart Weinstein, MD, University
of Iowa, 2003.
“Many with curvature of spine go on to lead normal lives. Many adolescents
diagnosed with spine curvatures can skip braces, surgery or other treatment without
developing debilitating physical impairments, a 50 year study suggests.”

Long-term results of quality of life in patients with idiopathic scoliosis after
Harrington instrumentation and their relevance for expert evidence.

Gotze C, Slomka A, Gotze HG, Potzl W, Liljenqvist U, Steinbeck J.
Z Orthop Ihre Grenzgeb 2002 Sep-Oct;140(5):492-8
“CONCLUSION: Forty percent of operated treated patients with idiopathic
scoliosis were legally defined as severely handicapped persons 16.7 years after the
surgery.”

Medical Complications in scoliosis surgery
Curr Opin Pediatr 2001 Feb;13(1):36-41

“[Complications] include the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, pancreatitis, superior mesentaric artery syndrome, ileus, pnemothorax, hemothorax, chylothorax and fat embolism. Urinary tract infections, wound infection and hardwarefailure are not addressed.” [They were not addressed because happened so often!]

Results of Surgical Treatment of Adults with Idiopathic Scoliosis
J Bone Joint Surg AM 1987 Jun;69(5) :667-75 Sponseller, Nachemson et al,
“Frequency of pain was not reduced… pulmonary function did not change… 40%
had minor complications, 20% had major complications, and… there was 1 death [out of
45 patients]. In view of the high rate of complications, the limited gains to be derived
from spinal fusion should be assessed and clearly explained to the patient.”

Corrosion of spinal implants retrieved from patients with scoliosis
Akazawa T, Minami S, Takahashi K, Kotani T, Hanawa T, Moriya H.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-
1 Inohana, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan. J Orthop Sci. 2005;10(2):200-5.
“Corrosion was seen on many of the rod junctions (66.2%) after long-term
implantation.”

Scoliosis curve correction, thoracic volume changes, and thoracic diameters in
scoliotic patients after anterior and posterior instrumentation

Int Orthop 2001;25(2):66-0
“The correlation between the change in Cobb angle and the thoracic volume
change was poor for both groups.” [e.g., whether fused in the front or back of the spine,
surgery will not improve cardiopulmonary function.]

Radiologic findings and curve progression 22 years after treatment for AIS
Spine 2001 Mar 1;26(5):516-25
“Initial average loss of spinal correction post-surgery is 3.2 degrees in the first year and 6.5 after two years with continued loss of 1.0 degrees per year throughout life.” [So, if a 50 degree Cobb angle is corrected by surgery to 25 degrees, it will return to its pre-operative condition of 50 degrees after roughly twenty years.]

Prospective Evaluation of Trunk Range of Motion in AIS Undergoing Spinal Fusion
Spine 2002 Jun 15;27 (12) :1346-54 Engsberg et al, Wash U, St. Louis, MO
“Whereas range of motion was reduced in the fused regions of the spine, it was
also reduced in un-fused regions [emphasis added]. The lack of compensatory increase
at un-fused regions contradicts current theory.”

Health-related quality of life in patients with AIS; a matched follow-up at least 20
years after treatment with brace (BT) or surgery (ST)
European Spine Journal 2001; Aug; 10(4): 278-88
“49% of surgically-treated patients admitted limitation of social activities due to
their back.”

Paul Harrington, known for inventing the surgery that implants metal rods in
scoliotic spines, stated in 1963 that, “metal does not cure the disease of scoliosis, which
is a condition involving much more than the spinal column.”