Scoliosis is a condition where the spine has a lateral (sideways) curvature. Although it can occur in infants, children and adults, this condition typically manifests in children during growth spurts. The National Scoliosis Foundation says that scoliosis generally manifests between the ages of 10 to 15, and while it occurs equally among male and female children, female children are about eight times more likely to need treatment due to the magnitude of the curvature.
Scoliosis is an idiopathic condition, which means the causes for it are unknown. Adult scoliosis is even more of an idiopathic condition, generally because it can occur with or without childhood scoliosis, and does not always respond to the same kind of treatments as childhood or infant scoliosis.
Adult scoliosis is generally identified in males and females over the age of 20, or after skeletal maturity (when the skeleton stops growing). In adult scoliosis, the condition generally causes more pain than in childhood scoliosis, and treatment options like bracing do not work to correct the issue because the mature skeleton are not as malleable as a child’s. Adult scoliosis can happen for a number of reasons including trauma, surgery, or sometimes a degenerative condition like osteoporosis or neuro-muscular diseases.
Symptoms of Adult Scoliosis
The defining feature of adult scoliosis is chronic pain. Symptoms of adult scoliosis, according to iScoliosis, the informational website of medical technology company Medtronic Inc., include pain, cosmetic deformity (very visible misalignment of shoulders, spine, hips etc), and pulmonary problems. You can spot some of these signs immediately, but issues like pulmonary or respiratory problems are a little more subtle and an X-ray would be necessary to determine the extent of the scoliosis and its impact on the pulmonary or respiratory system.
Courses of Action
Treatment of adult scoliosis is typically restricted to therapeutic treatments like exercises to strengthen the upper back, abdominal muscles and spine to make them more flexible and strong. If these exercises are performed rigorously, it can help improve posture and diminish some of the pain. In the case of degenerative conditions like osteoporosis, there might be other therapies combined with the physical therapy to bring the body into balance.
Other courses of action could include yoga for total body strengthening, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. There is no guarantee these will work to correct the scoliosis, but they might provide acute pain relief. Otherwise, depending on the extent of the scoliosis, surgery for spinal fusion might be the only course of corrective action.
Helping Loved Ones with Scoliosis
If you or somebody you love is displaying signs of adult scoliosis, complaining of chronic back pain, or appears to be unable to correct his or her posture, it is very important to get them to a doctor’s office to check and see if he or she potentially has adult scoliosis before any further damage can occur. An X-ray can show the doctor exactly what is going on to determine an immediate course of action.