My First Scoliosis Patient

scoliosis st. louis lumbar spine
Lumbar Spine

In my first 4 years of practicing chiropractic in St. Louis, at my InsideOut Wellness and Weight Loss office, I didn’t see a single scoliosis patient. Here in Jakarta, Scoliosis makes up at least 25% of our patient base. It’s not that the prevalence is greater, it’s just that in a city of 13 million people, like Jakarta, there are a lot of kids with scoliosis.

Ricky Ngo has been my guru in educating me on how to treat and correct a crooked spine. Ricky is a Vietnamese American educated in the states. He’s been working with scoliosis since he graduated Chiropractic School in 2009 and he takes his work very seriously. After all, these patients are kids with their whole lives ahead of them, so the stakes are high. This is what makes Ricky the perfect mentor for me – not only does he possess the knowledge and the experience required to correct crooked spines, he also has the passion. He has a great rapport with the kids and parents alike, and most importantly he gets results.

I had my first scoliosis patient come in last week, a 16 year old girl who we’ll call Jill. She presented as you would expect a scoliosis patient to present, high shoulder, head tilt, and anterior head carriage. Jill speaks great English, by the way, which makes treating her much simpler. I have a translator with me at all times, but it’s much effective if I can communicate directly to the patient. Reni, my translator, relays everything to Jill’s mom who does not speak much English.

Since taking Jill into care, I’ve had an additional two scoliosis patients begin treatment and Ricky is overseeing everything out of the gate, which is a tremendous comfort. We use a combination of chiropractic adjustments to mobilize the spine so that our weighting and supplemental therapies will be more successful. We also want to add to add A to P curve in her cervical and lumbar spine. Without those proper A-P curves, the spine becomes confused and starts to curve left to right. To treat, we add A-P curve where needed, mobilize the part of the spine that’s curved so that our therapies will take effect, and we educate the patient on proper posture to prevent further damage.

scoliosis st. louis, thoracic spine
22 degree curve. Anything over 20 is considered a scoliosis

A primary education point that we make clear to the kids (adults should pay attention as well) is that if you use your cell phone, you MUST hold it above your shoulders to prevent the slumped posture that we all exhibit when wrapped up in our phones. Another good posture for phone use is what we call the Sphinx Position. This is when you lay on your belly with our arms out in front of you. This is actually a good position for restoring curve in the C-spine.

Take a look at Jill’s ex-rays below. These are fairly minimal curves. Technically, if the curve is less than 20 degrees, it’s not even considered a scoliosis. So goal number one is to get Jill below the 20 degree point. Ultimately we want to straighten her out completely. Notice the lack of lordotic curvature in her C-spine. As I said before, you’ll find this common of all scoliosis patients. To correct the we have to first restore proper A to P curve and then work on left to right curves. I’ll keep you posted on Jill’s progress.

scoliosis jakarta cervical spine
Notice the lack of curve in her cervical spine.


scoliosis st. louis lateral lumbar
Again, notice the lack of front to back (A-P) curve in her lumbar spine.