Adult Scoliosis

FAQ’s on Adult Scoliosis

What is adult scoliosis?

Adult scoliosis is a deformity of the spine that is caused either by a degenerative disease in adulthood, or is the perpetuation of a condition that has existed since childhood. Childhood scoliosis may persist into adulthood due to a lack of or inadequate treatment. Scoliosis is not always benign and may have serious consequences, including leg pain or back pain.

What are the common symptoms of adult scoliosis?

Some adults in their early 40s become disabled because of scoliosis. Not only is their physical pain a problem, their appearance causes them to suffer emotionally. Elderly people who suffer from scoliosis more often encounter it as the result of a degenerative adult disease.

For the elderly, their appearance is less of an issue than mobility and pain control.

Spinal deformity in elderly people may compress nerves and generate severe leg pain and back pain. Many factors contribute to producing this pain. Unfortunately, if the deformity associated with the nerve compression is not identified, treatment may be undermined or may trigger new problems.

Particularly for adults, deformity of the spine can be very painful, whether due to problemsAdult Scoliosis Orange County with the nerves, or the spine, or both. Because gravity exerts its force upon the spine, both sitting and standing can be painful. Your spine plays an important role in maintaining the proper positioning of your head above your pelvis. When an adult’s spine is deformed, this positioning becomes misaligned. This is referred to as ‘imbalance’.

In response, your body makes an attempt to compensate by using the lower limbs and pelvis. When the contour of your spine seen from the side is misaligned, it is called ‘sagittal imbalance’; this produces particularly difficult problems that impact adult spinal deformity. For the elderly, these symptoms can cut back their independence severely. For younger people, adult scoliosis may have an adverse impact upon their family life or employment.

What is the cause of adult scoliosis?

The cause of the most common type of scoliosis is not known. However, doctors do agree that your genes may play a significant role. Beyond inheriting a predisposition for the condition, more obscure types of adult scoliosis may be due to: spine infections or injuries; birth defects that inhibit the growth of a healthy spine; and uromuscular conditions like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.

What factors increase the likelihood of your experiencing adult scoliosis?

Your age is a factor in calculating the likelihood of adult scoliosis. The type of scoliosis that first appears in adulthood is increasingly widespread among the elderly, occurring in nearly 30% of patients in their 70s. Gender is another contributing factor.

Generally, the most common form of scoliosis begins right before puberty. While its presence in girls vs. boys is about equal, girls run a greater risk of their spine’s curves becoming more pronounced, and require treatment. Heredity must also be factored in. While scoliosis does run in some families, most children who have scoliosis do not have a family history of its occurrence.

How is adult scoliosis detected?

Diagnosis is reached through examination, your medical history, and tests. In some instances, the diagnosis may be relatively clear, especially if there is a visible distortion of the spine. In other cases, important indicators may be very elusive. While important clinically, they may avoid detection with certain tests such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging);

therefore, X-rays are the primary means of detecting adult scoliosis. Along with MRIs and X-rays, additional insight into the reaction of your spine to stress or stretching in different positions may be required.

Alternative pre-operative tests are varied. Among them are: a CT scan to study details of your bones and CT myelography scans to examine your nerves; DEXA scans; and discography. These tests make it easier to determine which type of surgery may be suitable. Ultimately, your choice of treatment will be decided based on discussions with your doctor, your test results, your medical history and insight into possible risks and outcomes.

How is adult scoliosis treated?

There is a variety of treatments that may be used or combined to treat your adult scoliosis. Among these are: osteopathy; physiotherapy; chiropractic therapy; injections such as epidurals, facet blocks and nerve root blocks; pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medications; and the use of braces and corsets.

When necessary, surgery may be deemed the best choice of treatment. Several surgical procedures are viable to fuse, release or correct deformity of the spine.