Usually diagnosed in childhood, scoliosis is a spinal disorder that causes a severe deformity. The patient can have a sideways curvature of the spine like an "S" shape, an abnormal position of the ribs, as well as hip and shoulder deformities. So, what is adult scoliosis? It’s also an abnormal curvature of the spine, which can be related to adolescent scoliosis or a new diagnosis. It can be very painful, which is why our therapists at Chiropractic By Thriveology in Denver work with a number of patients for treatment.
No matter when it develops or is diagnosed, scoliosis can be agonizing and can also affect the nearby organs, cause neurological problems and arthritis; and sometimes even create lung and heart problems.
As mentioned, adult scoliosis is often the continuation of the patient’s adolescent scoliosis, which is commonly diagnosed around the teenage years and known as Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis (IAP). For those that develop scoliosis as adults, they may experience a number of symptoms leading up to an official diagnosis, including:
· Ongoing stiffness and lower back pain
· Pinched nerves causing numbness, cramping and shooting leg pain
· Lower back and leg strain that leads to unusual fatigue
Causes of Scoliosis
Adult scoliosis can sometimes be categorized into different types, although the vast majority are idiopathic – they have no known cause. Let’s look at the other types:
· Congenital Curve: This is a rare type of scoliosis with a spinal abnormality that existed at birth.
· Paralytic Curve: Non-working muscles around the spine, often due to a spinal cord injury, lead to spinal curvature.
· Myopathic Deformity: The term myopathic the means muscles do not function correctly, which leads to a curve that’s the result of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or polio.
· Secondary: This is often referred to as “secondary” scoliosis and is caused by other spinal issues that affect the vertebrae. Osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and degeneration can all be triggers.
Degenerative Adult Scoliosis
Sometimes referred to as Adult De Novo, degenerative scoliosis occurs due to age and deterioration of the spine and facet joints, which begin to shift and develop an atypical or scoliotic curve in the spine. In a number of female scoliosis patients, osteoporosis can be another contributing element.
Being diagnosed with adult degenerative scoliosis often starts with a patient suffering from severe pain in their lower back. Perhaps, it has escalated to include weakness, numbness and pain in other areas like their hip, knee, legs and ankles. They may even be having issues with mobility and coordination.
Since these patients were not diagnosed with scoliosis as an adolescent, they are often referred to an orthopedist, chiropractor or spine specialist to see what’s going on with their back pain and to address any other issues. Finally, through a full examination and even an MRI or X-ray, they will be diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis.
If you’ve received a diagnosis, your doctor can help you better understand what is adult scoliosis. And our experienced therapists at Chiropractic by Thriveology in Denver can provide added support, working with you and your doctor to help reduce pain, stiffness, fatigue and other symptoms of scoliosis. For more information, please call us for a complimentary, 15-minute consultation.