What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve abnormally. It is a musculoskeletal disorder that most commonly develops during a growth spurt in childhood. It is deemed present when the curvature of the spine exceeds 10 degrees. When it occurs, the spine takes an elongated S shape where the upper back bows outward and the lower back curves slightly inward.
A normal spine should appear as a straight line from the neck to the tailbone, butin a patient with scoliosis, the spine may curve, or have a hump in the back – even more so when bending forward. Scoliosis is more common in women than men. It can cause symptoms of pain, and in severe cases can even cause breathing difficulties.
What Causes Scoliosis in Adults?
Degenerative scoliosis appears most often in adults age 35 and older and is often the result of mild childhood scoliosis that progresses with age. It can also be a result of a weakening of the bones from osteoporosis or weakening of the ligaments from disuse or multiple spinal surgeries.
A diagnosis is made through a physical examination. Dr. Callewart may order a bend test (in cases where the patient is able), bone exam, and X-ray before an accurate diagnosis can be made.
What are the Symptoms of Scoliosis in Adults?
Patients with scoliosis may experience various characteristics and symptoms including:
- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other
- Uneven waist
- One hip higher than the other
- Leaning to one side
- Neck pain
- Back pain
What Are My Treatment Options for Scoliosis?
Nonsurgical options such as bracing or physical therapy are often advised initially for the treatment of scoliosis. If the condition seems to be getting progressively worse, surgical options may be necessary.
Nonsurgical Scoliosis Treatment
Braces are the preferred treatment for adolescents whose bones are still growing and who have a spinal curve ranging from 25 to 40 degrees.
Braces are used to effectively correct the curve and prevent it from worsening. Children who fail to wear their brace often see the curve return.
Minimally invasive surgery is an option for patients whose curvature occurs in the lumbar and thoracic portion of the spine. The surgical incision made during the procedure is small enough to be covered by a band-aid, and patients experience less pain and fewer complications.
Dr. Callewart will advise adolescents with spinal curves ranging from 40 to 50 degrees – if they are candidates for surgery. Following surgery, the spine may not be perfectly straight, but surgery is effective at preventing the curve from worsening in most cases.
Frequently Asked Questions About Scoliosis in Adults
1. What is the main cause of scoliosis?
Typically, the cause of scoliosis is unknown though some cases have been linked to spinal disc degeneration from issues like arthritis and hereditary conditions.
2. Can Scoliosis result in death?
Scoliosis will not result in death, though spinal curvature and rib cage displacement can lead to decreased lung function.