According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the curvature of scoliosis occurs when the spine measures 10 degrees or higher. Both the thoracic and lumbar portions of the spine can be affected.
According to Mayo Clinic, adults who developed curvature of the spine in adolescence are at risk of developing severe arthritis in the spine next to their old curves. Other risks such as osteoporosis can also develop as people age due to complications of medicine or menopause in women. If osteoporosis develops, fractures can happen as well.
The Scoliosis Research Society recognizes two types of adult scoliosis, adult idiopathic and adult degenerative.
Adult Idiopathic is a continuation of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Adult Degenerative is new scoliosis, which can develop in adults due to arthritis of facet joints, degeneration of disc, or the collapse and wedging of spaces between discs.
Adults who live with either type of scoliosis experience a great deal of pain. Typically, lower back pain and stiffness are common symptoms. Some may deal with numbness, shooting pain in the legs caused by pinched nerves, and cramping. With constant strain on lower back muscles and legs, scoliosis patients can experience fatigue as well.
Symptoms of scoliosis go beyond internal pain. Depending on the degree of curvature of the spine, height loss can become apparent, as well as uneven alignment of the pelvis and hips, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Though adult scoliosis patients endure a lot of pain, there are ways to help prevent or seek treatment. Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to help prevent osteoporosis. Women are encouraged to take steps to preserve the health of their bones prior to menopause to help prevent osteoporosis as well.
Bracing (a nonsurgical treatment for idiopathic scoliosis) can prevent curvature progression and help with pain. In both degenerative and idiopathic scoliosis, a comprehensive rehabilitation program focused on spinal and core strengthening are important factors in alleviating aspects of pain.
Freeman Health System offers services in specialized non-surgical treatment including pain management, physical therapy and x-ray/CT/MRI imaging. Surgical assessments are also available for those who need more advanced treatment. No referral is necessary. To schedule an appointment with Freeman Spinal Care, call 417.347.7200.
About the Author
Dr. Amanda Price earned her medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and started as a physiatrist at Freeman NeuroSpine in September 2017, specializing in reducing pain and restoring function lost due to illness or injury and treating a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Dr. Price is part of a team that specializes in spinal care services for patients. For specialized spinal care services, call 417.347.7200.