Scoliosis is a side-way curvature(s) of the spine that occurs mostly during growth spurts among young children and teenagers. Up to 90% of scoliosis is labeled idiopathic, which means they occur spontaneously and without identifiable cause. Scoliosis is most common among females and Mayo Clinic states: "most cases of scoliosis are mild but if severe, they can be disabling..."
In its severe forms, scoliosis can cause both physical and emotional pain (due to deformed physical appearances). Scoliosis is also associated with compromised heart and lung function due to their vicinity to the spine.
Scoliosis is clinically defined as a spinal curvature that exceeds more than 10 degrees (Cobb angle) to the right or left from the centerline. Once a scoliosis is diagnosed, the most common medical practice is to leave it alone and monitor its progression by taking follow up x-rays in 3 to 12 months intervals.
There are countless anecdotes and case studies that suggest the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for scoliosis. For example, a study published in 2011 revealed that "in long-term results, 22 out of the 28 patients benefited from improvements (reductions) in Cobb angle. Improvements in pain scores and disability ratings were recorded in all curvature types at 6 and 24 months." [Link to Source]
Another independent study conducted by Dr. Charles Lantz, DC, PhD and director of research of Life Chiropractic College West found that long term chiropractic care delivered "an average reduction of 1.4 degrees in the curvature of the subjects' spines; the children less than 10 years old showed an average improvements of 2.6 degrees; those over 10, showed an average improvement of 0.9 degrees."
The true effectiveness of chiropractic for scoliosis is not in the act of reducing the curvatures itself, but lies in prevention. The medical profession may not offer any sort of treatment for spinal curves less than 20 degrees, and oftentimes, they are left alone until the next check up. Given the fact that progressive scoliosis is disabling and that it's much easier to improve curvatures in younger subjects, it may be ideal to frequently receiving chiropractic adjustments in order to ensure a balance spinal alignment for better future growth. As such, chiropractic treatment may potentially offers a favourable when it comes to managing scoliosis in adolescents.