How Do You Cope with Scoliosis Pain as an Adult

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2 to 3 percent of Americans struggle with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. In saying that, it is important to note that the curve associated with scoliosis is markedly different than the normal spinal curve, which occurs at the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. Scoliosis occurs in the coronal plane, which is the vertical plane that extends from one’s head to their feet and runs parallel to their shoulders. The onset of scoliosis can develop in infancy; however, it is most common among teenagers and can occur in both males and females. If scoliosis is left untreated, the condition can worsen and also carry over into adulthood. In this article, we will take a closer look at scoliosis among adults and how to cope with the pain.


Scoliosis diagnosed in adulthood is vastly different compared to that of childhood scoliosis. The underlying causes, as well as the available treatments, will change once an individual has reached skeletal maturity. Most adults with scoliosis will fall into the following categories:

  • Individuals who underwent surgery as adolescents
  • Those who never received treatment
  • Individuals with degenerative scoliosis

Studies show that not seeking treatment for scoliosis prior to skeletal maturity can lead to a more pronounced curvature of the spine, which can make treating the condition more challenging. In most cases, surgery is the only viable treatment for extreme curve progression.


Degenerative scoliosis is a condition that impacts the lumbar spine and is common among seniors. In many cases, it is coupled with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause mild to severe back pain. That said, any extreme curvature of the spine caused by degenerative scoliosis will often require surgery.


Before patients can receive treatment for scoliosis, a physician will have to take several things into consideration including

  • Extent and degree of the spinal curvature
  • Spinal maturity
  • The probability of increases curve progression
  • Spinal maturity

After the patient has been evaluated, the physician will recommend one of three treatment options, bracing, surgery, or observation. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at what these options entail:

Bracing – This type of treatment is generally recommended for patients who have not reached skeletal maturity, meaning their spinal curve is between 25 and 40 degrees. A brace is useful in preventing the curve from progressing and becoming worse. Studies show that the success rate among those who use bracing to treat scoliosis is more than 80 percent.

Surgery – Generally, surgery is recommended for patients with a spinal curve measuring more than 50 degrees or for those diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis. There are several surgical procedures used to correct these conditions including

Anterior approach – The form of surgery requires that the patient lies on their side while the surgeon makes an incision that deflates the lung. Next, the surgeon will remove one of the patient’s ribs as a means of gaining access to the spine. It is important to note that the anterior approach, which is also known as Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, is the least invasive of all scoliosis surgeries and provides surgeons with full access of the patient’s spine throughout the surgical procedure. Also, the procedure provides several benefits to the patient including deformity correction, fewer fused spine segments, quicker recovery time, and better spine mobilization.

Decompressive laminectomy – This surgical procedure entails removing the roof of the vertebrae to allow more space for the nerves. In some cases, spinal fusion may be necessary, especially if the patient’s scoliosis is accompanied by spinal stenosis. Also, the surgical procedure will require the use of rods or screws, which are used to facilitate fusion and to support areas of the spine that may be unstable.

Minimally invasive surgery – In cases involving slight curve progression, fusion can be done with smaller incisions as part of a minimally invasive surgical procedure. To accomplish this task, surgeons will use advanced fluoroscopy combined with endoscopy to help improve the accuracy of incisions. The combined technology is also helpful when it comes to hardware placement, particularly rods and screws used to stabilize the spine. All in all, minimally invasive surgery is effective and causes less tissue damage compared to other procedures.

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and need help choosing a treatment that is right for you, consider speaking with one of our compassionate and friendly representatives today at 205-637-1363.

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