When we hear about scoliosis, we always think it is only related to children. However, scoliosis is also common in adults.
Types of Scoliosis in Adults
- Degenerative Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: The person who had scoliosis as a child and then later develops complications.
- De-Novo Scoliosis: Scoliosis that develops spontaneously in adult life and is usually secondary to degenerative changes of either the bone or the disc between the bones.
Symptoms of Scoliosis in Adults
Symptoms of Scoliosis in adults is usually very different to that of children, with pain being the most common. The pain usually starts as a secondary complication of the scoliosis itself. It usually associated with degenerative changes. Common conditions associated with scoliosis include conditions such as a disc prolapse or spondylosis (spinal degeneration accompanied by pain). Very often the associated conditions on its own may be easily treated, but not when Scoliosis is present.
Common age of patients who present with pain is usually around 35 years. This is the age at which the skeleton reaches full maturity and loses its flexibility, thereby making it less able to adapt to the stresses of the scoliosis. Early pain symptom may alert the person to the underlying scoliosis and then measures can be put in place to prevent the condition from getting worse.
- Postural Changes
Even if the spine curve of an adult is at a low degree early on, there is still the possibility of progression. This means that a spine curve of 20 degrees as a child, may progress to 35 degrees by the age of 35 as an adult. Spine curve at 20 degrees may not shown any postural changes, however, by the time the spine curve reaches 35 degrees there will be a definite change to the person’s posture.
Treatment options for Scoliosis in Adults
Treatment options for Scoliosis in adults are very similar to that of children with one exception. Surgical treatment for adult is only done as the final option in very selective cases. This is due to a much higher risk of complications and a significantly slower recovery compared to children.
The usual conservative options are physical therapies such as Chiropractic and Physiotherapy for both children and adults.
In more severe cases pain management can be achieved with prescription drugs. Other options include epidural injections, nerve blocks and facet joint injections.
As with children, a back brace may also be required. The brace of choice for adults and children, is the new dynamic soft brace. In children, the main function of the brace is to prevent progression of the curve of the spine. In adults, the main function of the brace is to help relieve the pain. Better postural improvements may be achieved as the secondary benefit of the brace.
The most important thing in both children and adults, is the early detection of Scoliosis, thereby improving the outcome of any treatment and preventing future complications.