When most of us think of scoliosis, we generally think of it in terms of how it affects children. But scoliosis pain isn’t just kids’ stuff. A growing number of adults are being diagnosed with and treated for this debilitating condition. If you’ve been experiencing back pain and want to rule it out, or if you have recently learned you are suffering from adult scoliosis, you’re probably curious about what it means and how to proceed.
First, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Studies have shown that, in the 60-and-over age group, as many as seven out of 10 adults have scoliosis—a number that far outpaces adolescent scoliosis. And, as people continue to live longer, incidences of adult scoliosis will likely continue to increase.
Types of scoliosis
While individuals may have varying degrees of curvature, the official definition of scoliosis is a curvature of more than 10 degrees. For some adults, the issue that develops is due to a recurrence of childhood scoliosis, “but the vast majority of adults with scoliosis had normal spines in their youth,” said the New York Times.
Adult idiopathic scoliosis is a painful condition that continues from adolescence to adulthood, and which can continue to worsen with age. “Adults with idiopathic scoliosis have more symptoms than teens because of degeneration in discs and joints leading to narrowing of the openings for the spinal sac and nerves (spinal stenosis),” said the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS). Common scoliosis pain associated with this type of disorder includes are stiffness and lower back pain, as well as “numbness, cramping, and shooting pain in the legs due to pinched nerves.”
Adult degenerative scoliosis is the type of scoliosis that starts in adulthood, with no prior diagnosis during adolescence. “As the name suggests, this type of scoliosis usually develops during adulthood as the result of asymmetrical aging/degeneration of the spinal discs (those gel-like cushions between each of the vertebrae in the spine), causing tilting of the vertebrae and eventually resulting in spinal curvature,” said U.S. New & World Report. “Other conditions, such as degenerative disc disease or small compression fractures of the spine due to osteoporosis, can also cause changes to the symmetry of the vertebrae and sometimes act as catalysts for this type of scoliosis.”
Both types of adult scoliosis can typically be managed with minimally invasive treatments, including over-the-counter pain relievers and exercise. If there is still not significant improvement, epidural injections have proven effective at providing scoliosis pain relief.
If the pain has still not subsided, minimally invasive surgical treatments may be able to “restore spinal balance and reduce pain and discomfort by relieving nerve pressure (decompression) and maintaining corrected alignment by fusing and stabilizing the spinal segments,” sad the SRS.
If it’s time to seek treatment for scoliosis or if you are experiencing back pain that you need diagnosed, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain.