Back pain is a familiar problem all adults faced. Stressful work, strenuous physical activity, and bad posture are typical causes. It’s a common scenario to visit your doctor to get a prescription for your ordinary back pain. But, this changes when your common back problem turns out to be a medical condition in the spine called scoliosis.
Scoliosis is most detected in late childhood and early teens. It is usually when a growth spurt is happening. However, many people don’t know that scoliosis is a severe medical condition that can develop later in life.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the backbone or spine deforms in an "S" or less usual "C" shape. Some of the noticeable signs are uneven shoulders, waist or hips, leaning to one side, and odd posture.
A physician performs diagnosis through a physical exam and studying the patient's medical history. In some cases, doctors conduct neurological exams. That is to check for muscle weakness, numbness, and abnormal reflexes. The diagnosis is usually confirmed through imaging tests. Some examples are x-ray, spinal radiograph, CT scan, or MRI.
The cause for scoliosis is still unknown, but research says it can run in the family. In a study done on 1,436 patients, 56% had one or more relatives with the condition. However, note that there are cases with no related family history.
Scoliosis in Adults
Although scoliosis is common in children and teens, adults are not exempt. Scoliosis can develop later in life, too. Although, adult scoliosis takes longer to discover since it progresses slowly. Many adults can live for many years without even noticing this condition.
Adult scoliosis occurs in patients 18 years old and above. Usually, there is an abnormal side-to-side spinal curve of 10 degrees or greater.
Two common types of scoliosis can affect adults.
Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis
Adult idiopathic scoliosis is a continuation of adolescent scoliosis that has remained undetected. It may have started during the teenage years but gone unnoticed. This form of scoliosis doesn't progress until reaching adulthood. Yet, it can affect both the thoracic and lumbar portions of the spine.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis
Adult degenerative scoliosis is another form of scoliosis that starts in adulthood. Naturally, our body takes on wear-and-tear as we age. Our bones undergo degenerative changes making them more vulnerable and prone to injury and damages. When joints deteriorate, it can cause the spine to curve.
This form of scoliosis is most common in older adults but can also affect adults aged 50 years old and younger. An estimated 60% of people over age 60 may have mild degenerative scoliosis.
Adult Scoliosis Symptoms
Regardless of whether it is idiopathic or degenerative, the symptoms are pretty much similar.
According to WebMD, some adult scoliosis symptoms are:
Adult Scoliosis Treatment Options
You should seek immediate treatment once diagnosed with adult scoliosis. Scoliosis cases are easy to solve, and most don’t need surgery. With the advances of technology, treatments are less invasive, and recovery is much faster.
The following non-surgical options are available:
Both treatments can lessen the symptoms and correct the patient's musculature, holding the spine in the right place. Contrary to other medical opinions, scoliosis bracing promotes muscle memory. Thus, it helps the spine to stay in the proper position.
Arrange an examination with your doctor to find out the most suitable treatment for your medical condition.
Coping With Adult Scoliosis
Getting diagnosed with adult scoliosis can cause anxiety, fear, and discomfort. Unlike children and teens, the lifestyle of an adult involves a lot of responsibility. Work, family, and business are just some examples.
The pain and discomfort caused by scoliosis can affect a person’s routine and lifestyle. That results in insecurity, shame, and stress. So, aside from treatment, patients must seek medical help and guidance to help cope with physical, emotional, and social challenges.
Home exercises, pain medication, and support groups are accessible with the help of a doctor.
Scoliosis is a serious matter and should be treated as a family affair. Patients and their loved ones must be aware of the symptoms, treatments, complications, and management to cope with them.
Adult Scoliosis: Key Takeaways
Scoliosis is a serious medical condition that affects millions of people, regardless of age, sex, and race.
Though a vast majority of patients are young people, scoliosis can develop later in life. Adults need to be aware of this possibility and take good care of the body by avoiding the bad habits that can result in a spine problem.
The two most common types of scoliosis in adults are:
As soon as diagnosed, scoliosis can be treated and managed with experts and professionals in the field. Resources, treatments, and clinics are available for patients dealing with adult scoliosis.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t disregard them. Talk to a doctor immediately.
Disregarding your symptoms can worsen the condition and may result in further complications.
Remember, as the body ages, the joints become weaker, making it more susceptible to damage. Proper treatment can manage the deterioration and can stop its progress.
We’re here to help. Contact our main office to set an appointment. We provide spine check-ups, scoliosis bracing, and other related services to help patients reach recovery.