Treating Scoliosis in Adults
Category: Scoliosis | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 27, 2017
Scoliosis is a condition categorized by a significant abnormal curvature of the spine. The problem oftentimes develops in children who are growing and experiencing bone structure changes, but it can also develop in adults. Today, we take a closer look at why this condition can arise in adulthood, and what treatment options can help keep the spine from getting worse.
Why Does Scoliosis Develop In Adults?
Scoliosis can develop in adults for a number of different reasons. For some patients, scoliosis can develop because a childhood abnormality of the spine went unaddressed. For others, it can arise even if they did not have any history of the condition. When this happens, it is known as adult degenerative scoliosis. Adult degenerative scoliosis is usually brought on by another spinal condition or injury. Some of the more common injuries that can lead to curvature of the spine if not treated properly include:
- Spinal disc degeneration
- Compression fracture of the spine
- Osteoporosis of the spine
- Spinal stenosis
When these injuries occur, healing takes place in the spine. However, if they don’t heal correctly, they can slowly cause the spine to shift and curve. Over time, this curvature becomes more pronounced, and scoliosis eventually sets in.
Early Signs of Adult Scoliosis
The best way to treat degenerative scoliosis is to begin treatment before the condition and curvature progresses to a more extreme state. In order to spot the condition and get to a back specialist, you need to know the early warning signs. Some of the common symptoms of degenerative scoliosis include:
- Back pain
- Differences in leg length
- Hip pain
- A hitch in your gait or in your hips when walking
- The dropping of one shoulder compared to the other
- A hunched appearance
- Visual curvature of the spine
If you notice any of the above symptoms, speak to a spinal specialist, because as we mentioned, treatment is more successful if the condition is treated in an earlier stage of development.
Scoliosis Treatment Options
If your condition is mild, your spine surgeon may recommend a few different non-operative treatments. Thankfully, there are a number of successful non-surgical treatment options that can help treat the condition and preserve maximum function. Some of the more popular management strategies include exercise, physical therapy, targeted aerobic conditioning, core muscle strengthening, spinal mobilization techniques and chiropractic manipulation. Anti-inflammatory medications and spinal injections can also help calm pain caused by inflammation or nerve impingement.
Non-surgical treatments can help decrease pain, but they don’t always prevent the continued curvature of the spine. When this happens, surgery may be necessary. Your surgery will be dependent on the location of the curve and the degree of curvature, but most operations involve accessing the spine and correcting the curve with the aid of spinal hardware or a fusion operation. The goal of any operation is to increase stability in the area that’s causing the spine to curve in the wrong direction, and to ensure that the spine gets back on the correct path.