Is There Scoliosis Treatment Available for Adults?

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine develops an abnormal curvature. While there is a natural forward-to-backward curve to a healthy spine, those with scoliosis develop a side-to-side curve. This curvature can be as small as 10 degrees, or it can be as severe as 100 degrees or more in some cases. It is usually diagnosed and treated in children or adolescents. However, it is occasionally diagnosed in adults.

The cause of adult scoliosis can vary. The most common form is degenerative scoliosis in which a curve develops as the patient ages. Adult scoliosis can also develop due to trauma or hereditary causes. Some cases of adult scoliosis are simply pediatric cases that were not discovered until adulthood.

Most cases of adult scoliosis are painless and mild enough to not require treatment. However, some patients do show symptoms as they get older. These symptoms include a decrease in height, an uneven alignment of the pelvis and hips, and chronic back pain. Treatment is available for those who experience severe symptoms. In all cases, treatment is intended to relieve pain and improve spinal function.

What Treatment Options are Available?

The most common treatments for adult scoliosis involve relieving pain, but surgery is an option for some individuals. The most common surgery for treating adult scoliosis is a spinal fusion.

This involves fusing the vertebrae to bone grafts in an attempt to straighten the spine. Other types of surgery include:

  • Decompression Fusion, in which nerves and tissue pressing on the spine is removed prior to a fusion.
  • Surgical stabilization, or the use of screws and rods to hold the spine in place. This procedure is usually reserved for particularly severe cases of scoliosis.
  • Osteotomy, or the surgical cutting of bone to straighten the spine.
  • Vertebral column resection, which is the removal of entire sections of the vertebrae.

It’s important to note that spinal surgery is very invasive and comes with a number of possible complications. These operations are reserved for severe cases of adult scoliosis.

Most cases of adult scoliosis only require the management of mild chronic pain if any treatment is required at all. Some of the more common pain management treatments include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercises to strengthen the core muscles
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin

Of course, lifestyle changes can be used to help manage your adult scoliosis. First of all, be mindful of your posture. Avoid slouching when standing or sitting, and try to keep your feet flat on the ground if you have to sit at a desk for extended periods of time. Second of all, stay active. This can be difficult if you experience chronic back pain, but even mild physical activity can help alleviate a stiff back. If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for eight hours a day, take frequent breaks to stand up and walk around for a few minutes.

You should also look for time every week to get some exercise. You don’t need to do any heavy lifting in the gym, but going for walks or bike rides can do wonders even if you don’t have an abnormal curve in your spine. Finally, listen to your body. It’s likely that you won’t experience any symptoms associated with adult scoliosis, but you need to be able to recognize when they do happen. If you have mild chronic back pain that is steadily getting worse, speak to your doctor. Back pain can have causes that have nothing to do with scoliosis, but issues like arthritis or a recurring injury can be just as severe.

The bottom line here is that there are treatments available to you, even if most of them are technically palliative. Whether your adult scoliosis only causes mild pain or it’s a debilitating condition that is severely impacting your life, there is help available to you. Contact us today at 205-637-1363 to learn what treatment options may be available to you. Our friendly staff will be glad to answer any of your questions and help relieve your chronic back pain.

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