How Is Adult Scoliosis Pain Treated
Because each person is unique, a customized treatment plan is recommended to reduce curvature, improve functionality, and relieve scoliosis pain in adults. It is also important to address the conditions underlying cause bone mass and density loss with nutrient supplements and possibly hormone replacement therapy.
Other non-surgical scoliosis treatment options include balancing and isometric exercises, Automatic Response Training exercises, ScoliSMART Activity Suit, and nutritional testing.
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Thoracic Or Lumbar Scoliosis:
You can use a variety of equipment to help you stretch. These include:
- Foam roller
- Yoga wheel
- Rolled up towel
Which one to use? Pick the equipment with the appropriate width that you can comfortably feel the stretch.
- Lie on top of the equipment of your choice with the side of convexity on the lower side.
- The foam roller should be on the same level of the apex.
How Is Adult Scoliosis Treated
The majority of cases of adult scoliosis can be managed non-operatively through regular observation by a doctor, over-the-counter pain medications, and core-strengthening exercises to strengthen your abdomen and back and to improve flexibility. If you smoke, its important that you quit. Smoking has been shown to speed up the degenerative process.
In most cases, your doctor will recommend some forms of physical therapy, to both maintain strength and relieve pain. These may include:
- Working to improve posture
- Doing low-impact exercises, such as swimming
- Daily stretching
- Staying active
If pain is not relieved by oral medications or physical therapy, your doctor may recommend epidural or nerve block injections for more effective relief.
Surgery is necessary in some cases of adult scoliosis. This treatment is the last option because of the risks of complications from spinal surgery. Surgery may be suggested for the following reasons:
Advances in surgical techniques and computer-assisted navigation systems make less invasive approaches possible, and recovery time quicker.
What Will Happen If Scoliosis Is Not Treated
Most patients with untreated scoliosis will develop spondylosis, or arthritis of the spine involving swelling, disk degeneration, bone spurs, and severe pain if the vertebrae press down on a nerve. They are also at a higher risk for osteoporosis. The risk for curve progression, however, is harder to quantify. Patients who are not treated for scoliosis are at a higher risk for progression, but it depends on the extent of the curve.
What Are The Most Effective Forms Of Scoliosis Treatment
Scoliosis brings up images of braces and perhaps memories of being tested for it in grade school by the school nurse. is one of the most common treatment options for scoliosis because it may fix the curve without spine surgery.
Sometimes, though, the curve is too extreme and bracing doesn’t help enough. In that situation, you can have scoliosis surgery to correct the curve. You can learn more about surgical treatment for scoliosis in for adults and scoliosis surgery for children.
Although technological advancements have led to innovative new surgical options over the past decade, there has also been a sea-change in the medical community, which has shifted toward a more patient-centered care model, says Dr. Lonner.
The new paradigm uses your X-rays and measurements as well as personal interactions with you and your family, taking your lifestyle and values into account, when creating a treatment plan. Today, says Dr. Lonner, there’s more of a reliance on the back and forth and assessment of the patient’s and family’s goals.
Treatment plans are also increasingly drawing on input from a multi-disciplinary team. This is particularly true for adults with chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. For these individuals, overall risk profile plays a large role in determining their care plan.
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Treatments To Increase Strength And Mobility
As with most back pain, increasing strength and mobility can both relieve pain and reduce the risk for pain to recur in the future. Treatments that can help strengthen the back and/or keep it flexible include:
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist or other qualified medical professional can help develop an exercise and stretching routine to meet the patients specific needs. Physical therapy can help keep the soft tissues and joints limber as well as strengthen the targeted muscles.
- Pool therapy. Some exercises, such as water therapy, can be done in a pool. The bodys natural buoyancy in water helps counteract the effects of gravity, enabling patients to condition muscles while putting less stress on the facet joints.
Some people might find other treatments also help, such as massage therapy to help boost blood circulation and loosen muscles and joints.
Scoliosis Back Pain And Exercise: 7 Things You Should Know
Although a myth has persisted for many years that there isnt a link between a curved spine and pain, doctors now recognize that scoliosis does, in fact, increase the chance of back pain in youth and adults. While it may seem counter-intuitive, exercising can actually help reduce and manage scoliosis back pain rather than make it worse.
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Natural History And Treatment
Natural history studies of patients with idiopathic scoliosis after skeletal maturity, found that curves less than 30° do not progress, while most curves of greater than 50° continue to progress. The progression is approximately 1° per year . In patients with severe thoracic curves , there is an increased risk of cor pulmonale and right heart failure. However, an increased mortality rate has not been found in long-term studies of patients with AIS. Pulmonary function can become limited with severe scoliosis . Back pain is common in the normal population, making studies evaluating back pain in scoliosis difficult. Some studies show a slightly higher rate of back pain in patients with AIS . Scoliosis has also been found to be a risk factor for psychosocial issues and health compromising behaviour . However, there have been no studies comparing treated and untreated patients with scoliosis to their rates of back pain and their self image.
The treatment of scoliosis is based on the type of scoliosis, the magnitude of the curve, the number of years of growth remaining and the patients opinion about the shape of their back. The treatment of patients with congenital-, neuromuscular- and syndrome-associated scoliosis, and those with idiopathic scoliosis younger than 10 years of age, presents a number of controversies. These patients should be treated at specialized facilities their treatment is beyond the scope of the present paper.
Aesthetics Of Scoliosis In Adults
While pain, disability, and the progression of your curves are the most serious and urgent results of adult scoliosis, the way that you look when you go about your daily life is a very real and important consideration for scoliosis sufferers.
In addition to worrying about the possibility of your condition deteriorating over time and resulting in pain, you sometimes feel self-conscious because of the way your scoliosis makes you look.
I hated the way I was different. My friends were always asking me if I was in pain because my hip was sticking out to the side when I walked. Yes, I was in some pain, but I didnt want anyone to notice, but they all did.
So many scoliosis sufferers can relate to this feeling of being different from everyone else. Even if you are experiencing no pain, your scoliosis appears as a disability in the eyes of people you see at work, at the supermarket, in interviews, at gatherings with friends, and everywhere you go.
The good news is that treatment for your scoliosis can stabilize, and possibly even modestly reduce your scoliosis and allow you to experience less pain, disability, progression, and self-consciousness.
Research shows that even if the curve can only be modestly reduced, significant postural improvement is still very possible!
Katherine was suffering from back pain for 40 years. She went to many different physical therapists, chiropractors and doctors to no avail. The pain worsened and began to spread to her shoulder:
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What Are The Causes Of Other Types Of Scoliosis
As stated above, idiopathic scoliosis and its subtypes comprise over 80% of all scoliosis patients. However, there are three other main types of scoliosis:
There are other potential causes of scoliosis, including spine tumors such as osteoid osteoma. This is a benign tumor that can occur in the spine and cause pain. The pain causes people to lean to the opposite side to reduce the amount of pressure applied to the tumor. This can lead to a spinal deformity. In addition, researchers suggest that genetics , muscle disorders, and/or abnormal fibrillin metabolism may play a role in causing or contributing to scoliosis development.
Is Neck Pain Experienced By All Scoliosis Patients
Some people are surprised by this answer, but no, not all people with scoliosis experience neck pain. In fact, in our younger patients , approximately 60 to 90 percent dont present with any symptoms adults are different.
This difference in experiencing scoliosis-related pain between adolescents and adults is understood as a result of compression. For young people who are still growing, their spines are experiencing a lengthening motion, so they arent vulnerable to the compressive forces of gravity. In adults, this is the opposite.
Adults are no longer growing, which means any abnormal spinal curvature is causing compression on the spine, its nerves, tissues, and surrounding muscles. When the spine loses its healthy curves, theyre replaced with bad curves, and this is where treating the structural issue of those abnormal curves comes in.
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How Is Severe Scoliosis
As CLEAR doctors, our treatment goal is the same for both our adolescent and our adult patients – to address the underlying structural issues within the spine. Whether or not pain is an experienced symptom of a patients scoliosis, if the underlying structural issue isnt addressed, the overall function of the spine will be compromised.
Our treatment protocol allows us to help restore the spines biomechanics, get motion back into the spine, and strengthen any weak muscles.
Each case of scoliosis differs greatly from one patient to the next. We address this variance by ensuring each treatment plan is fully customized to deal with the varying characteristics and related symptoms of each patients condition.
Here at CLEAR, our approach is to proactively address the underlying structural issue of the scoliosis and any scoliosis-related pain. Our treatment protocol can include a number of forms of treatment, including scoliosis-specific chiropractic adjustments, isometric exercises, and therapy. Some CLEAR-certified doctors use custom corrective 3D bracing as a complement to the CLEAR approach.
Scoliosis-specific isometric exercises can be a big part of our treatment plan and can include lying on spinal-molding rolls to improve the necks healthy curve. As the spines healthy curves are restored, adverse spinal tension is reduced, along with pain and other related symptoms.
How To Manage Adult Scoliosis
You may remember reporting to the nurse in middle school to be evaluated for scoliosis. If you were diagnosed with scoliosis in childhood, you likely wore a plastic brace as you grew. When most people hear of scoliosis they think of a younger teenager, but adults can develop scoliosis, too.
Adult scoliosis isnt a new diagnosis, but its still growing in recognition. The treatment for adults is much different than the treatment for adolescents, says Brigham and Womens Hospital neurosurgeon John Chi, MD, MPH.
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What Kind Of Scoliosis Surgery Is Available
Surgery is generally a good option for those who have tried more conservative measures and whose quality of life is compromised by back and/or leg pain and spinal imbalances that limit their mobility and their ability to engage in activities of daily living. Surgery may be appropriate for children or adolescents with severe curvatures and adults with idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis.
Spinal fusion is the most invasive and most common surgical scoliosis treatment. It uses bone from another part of your body , or from a cadaver or a synthetic bone substitute to stabilize a section of the spine.
While the procedure is not new, many surgeons are now using innovative multimodal strategies that lead to better outcomes. These include spinal cord and nerve root monitoring during surgery, GPS-guided robotics surgery, and the use of tranexamic acid during surgery to limit blood loss and decrease surgery times.
Vertebral Body Tethering
This minimally invasive, thoracoscopic surgical procedure, also known as anterior scoliosis correction, is appropriate for the pediatric patient whose spine is still growing and was FDA approved in August 2019.
During this procedure, your surgeon makes small incisions in your side through which they place screws and anchors across multiple vertebrae along the convex aspect of your spinal curve. A strong, flexible cord is then attached to the hardware and is tightened to the appropriate tension to correct your curvature.
Pain And Scoliosis In Adults
Though it is rare for scoliosis to cause pain in adolescence, pain is a common symptom of scoliosis in adults. The patients in my office receiving adult scoliosis treatment all say the same thing. They were told they had scoliosis as children and teens and advised to watch and wait. Then around middle age, quite often sooner, they begin to experience back pain, hip pain, or other symptoms only to discover that scoliosis is the underlying culprit.
In a 2007 study of 51 adult scoliosis sufferers between the ages of 17 and 60:
- 84% experienced low back pain.
- 43% experienced nerve root pain.
- Only 8% of patients reported no pain at all.
- 92% of the sample group said that they experienced pain regularly as a symptom of their scoliosis.
One of our patients recalls the sudden and unexpected onset of pain she experienced as an adult after having no pain when she was younger:
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How Can You Deal With And Live With Scoliosis
For children, especially, it can be frightening to learn they have scoliosis. Having that label makes them different at a time in their lives when they don’t want to be all that different. They might not like the idea of wearing a brace, either. But scoliosis is nothing to be scared or ashamed of. With the proper treatment, scoliosis doesn’t have to define your life.
The challenges of living with scoliosis vary depending on the individual, their age, and the severity of their condition. Scoliosis is not only a physical impairment it can also have implications for mental health and it can affect your ability to engage in activities. There are, however, many resources available to help you or your child cope with the diagnosis and live a full life.
For many people, particularly adolescent girls with idiopathic adolescent scoliosis , the diagnosis comes with body image concerns. While negative body image can certainly affect males and females at any point in their lives, IAS disproportionately affects girls.
Its a very difficult time as it is, explains Dr. Lonner. Scoliosis can make some adolescents even more self-conscious than usual, he says. For younger people, even a milder deformity with little or no pain can have serious mental health implications.
Approaches to Scoliosis Treatment: Scoliosis & Spine Associates. Treatments.
Symptoms: American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Scoliosis
What Causes Scoliosis
Scoliosis affects about 2% of females and 0.5% of males. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown . This type of scoliosis is described based on the age when scoliosis develops, as are other some other types of scoliosis.
- If the person is less than 3 years old, it is called infantile idiopathic scoliosis .
- Scoliosis that develops between 3-10 years of age is called juvenile idiopathic scoliosis.
- People who are over 10 years old have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
More than 80% of people with scoliosis have idiopathic scoliosis, the most common type of scoliosis, and the majority of those are adolescent girls the most common location for scoliosis is in the thoracic spine.
Medical literature often has more specific names or terms for scoliosis:
- Kyphoscoliosis: a combination of outward and lateral spine curvature
- Dextroscoliosis: curvature of the spine to the right
- Rotoscoliosis : curvature of the vertebral column turned on its axis
- Levoconvex: curvature of the spine to the left
- Thoracolumbar: curvature related to both the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine
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How Does It Feel
Scoliosis does not usually cause pain. But pain may occur as the abnormal curves of the spine affect the surrounding muscles and joints. These changes may alter body alignment, posture, and movement patterns. This can cause irritation and pain. Muscles that support the spine may become imbalanced and lead to a loss of strength and flexibility. A person with scoliosis may notice:
- Uneven shoulder height.
Scoliosis Treatment In Adults: Traditional Options
Traditional scoliosis treatments require that you either do nothing or commit to dangerous and risky surgery.
Below are what youve been told are your only options to experience relief from your scoliosis. As you can see, none of them are satisfactory because they do not address the root cause of scoliosis. Additionally, they are risky, uncertain, and in some cases, downright dangerous.
Option #1: Watch and Wait
You already know how risky, dangerous, and uncertain it is to take the traditional advice of watch and wait. While it is possible for our exercise based scoliosis programs to prevent further progression and pain, it is more challenging to treat progression and pain once it has already begun.
Besides this, watch and wait has serious implications for your mental health. Traditional medicine does not always account for the fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness that is a part of the daily lives of those with scoliosis.
Option #2: Risky and Dangerous Surgery
Scoliosis Surgery in adults
Surgery to correct scoliosis involves placing one or two metal rods stabilized by hooks and screws along the spine in an effort to prevent further curvature. The surgeon uses pins and bone grafts to keep the rod in place next to the spine. This is called fusion surgery. The spinal bones are fused together, destroying the joints of the spine.
High risk of complication
Here are some firsthand accounts by people who had the Harrington rod surgery: