Scoliosis, or abnormal curvature of the spine, is often only associated with adolescents. However, adults can have scoliosis too. Adult scoliosis is defined as abnormal curvature of the spine in a patient over the age of 18. Sometimes adult scoliosis results from untreated childhood curvature that has progressed. When scoliosis develops during adulthood, without a history of childhood curvature, it is usually classified as adult degenerative scoliosis.
Normal spine (left) - Scoliosis (right)
As we age, our bodies change. When parts of the vertebral column begin to age, some people begin to experience back or neck pain. Common degenerative spinal conditions include:
Sometimes, the effects of these conditions cause the spine to curve to the left or right. Abnormal curvature can cause problems such as:
Our practice combines your medication history, physical examination and advanced diagnostic technologies to make an accurate diagnosis.
Front view (anterior-posterior, AP) of severe lumbar (low back) Adult Degenerative Scoliosis. Note the dense bone degeneration, disc space collapse, and vertebral shifting. This patient has severe stenosis, back and leg pain.
Most cases of adult scoliosis are treated without surgery. Treatment may include:
Surgical correction of adult degenerative scoliosis is uncommon. However, it may be necessary if:
If spine surgery is necessary, it may include spinal instrumentation with fusion. Instrumentation (i.e. rods, screws) and fusion (bone graft) joins two or more vertebrae and stabilizes the spine. Be assured that if surgery is necessary, all aspects of the procedure, including risks and benefits, will be fully explained to you.
Keep in mind that many cases of adult degenerative scoliosis need no treatment at all. However, it is important to maintain good general and spine health. This includes regular exercise to be strong and flexible, good body mechanics, sensible eating and healthy weight maintenance, and no smoking. Our therapists are experts at helping you to develop healthy habits.