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Beyond School Scoliosis Screenings

By Raelyn Cancel, DC

Making decisions regarding the health and well-being of their families is an awesome responsibility for parents. With the magnitude of information available, making these critical decisions might seem confusing or even overwhelming. This may be confounded if there is a limited exposure to family chiropractic care.

The Association of Chiropractic Colleges has stated:

“Chiropractic is concerned with the preservation and restoration of health, and focuses particular attention on the subluxation. A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.”(1)

What does this mean in terms of family health and wellbeing? The skull and vertebrae of the spine are bone structures that house and protect the central nervous system. Because of their intimate relationship with the nervous system, chiropractors evaluate these structures to determine if cranial and spinal dysfunction and accompanying nervous dysfunction, which compromise health, are present.

Some parents may assume that their children’s spines are fine because they know that the child’s school performs spinal evaluations. In fact, parents may not realize that the school screenings seek to identify a very specific type of spinal curvature called idiopathic scoliosis. The condition is considered to be rare in North America.(2) It is understood that these types of programs attempt to identify children who may be candidates for medical orthopedic treatment in the form of spinal braces and surgery.(3)

Parents may also be unaware, that while the screenings are common and even mandated in some areas, the reliability and effectiveness of this practice has met with concern and controversy.(3,4) In consideration of this, even if a child “passes” such a screening, they may still have spinal problems that need to be addressed, as these programs do not evaluate for chiropractic subluxations. Only chiropractors are educated and qualified to provide this critical service.

Numerous hours of education in anatomy, neurology, physiology and rigorous licensing examinations provide family chiropractors with the privileged opportunity to interact with a variety of patients of different ages, lifestyles and symptomatic presentations. With children, the experience is profound. We are keenly aware of the deleterious effects of chronic subluxations. We have observed that subluxations depress wellbeing and can be considered as risks for illness and future injury even in patients, such as children, who may not express complaints such as symptoms.(5)

When armed with information, decisions regarding family health care are not as confusing or overwhelming. A better functioning nerve system and better health are intimately connected. ICPA Doctors of Chiropractic are committed to this connection. Parents can feel confident in their decision to include chiropractic care as an informed health choice.

Raelyn Cancel, D.C., has been awarded Diplomate status for successful completion of the ICPA’s 360 hour, postgraduate Diplomate Program. She is a 1990 graduate of Life West Chiropractic College and practices in Wiarton, Ontario.


  1. Association of Chiropractic Colleges: Issues in chiropractic. Position paper #1. The ACC Chiropractic Paradigm, Chicago, July, 1996, Association of Chiropractic Colleges.
  2. Anrig, A, Plaugher, G. Pediatric Chiropractic. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1998.
  3. Yawn B, et al. A Population-Based Study of School Scoliosis Screening. JAMA 1991; 282(15).
  4. Karachalios T, et al. Ten-Year Follow-Up Evaluation of a School Screening Program for Scoliosis. Spine 1999; 24(22).
  5. Masarsky C, Todres-Masarsky. Somatovisceral Aspects of Chiropractic. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone, 2001.