Scoliosis is a condition of the spine that displays typical symptoms such as a side-to-side curvature, a hump back appearance at the upper back, and pain. When the ailment appears during the adult years, it most often develops in women who are over the age of 40.
Most cases of adult-onset scoliosis are caused by degenerative vertebral issues such as osteoporosis. When the spine gradually becomes weaker, it is unable to maintain its natural position and begins to slowly curve. Scoliosis can also occur after some types of spinal surgery that leave the column weakened and prone to shifting. It is sometimes a result of osteomalacia, a less-common disease that softens the bones causing them to gradually collapse into a curve.
The first sign that is generally noticed as scoliosis develops is a gradual development of a spinal curve. Pain may be experienced in the lower back resulting from degenerative bone disease, but the curve itself is rarely a source of discomfort.
As scoliosis advances, the misplaced vertebrae may cause a pinching of the spinal nerves resulting in symptoms such as numbness, weakness, tingling, and pain in the legs. Severe compression of nerves can cause mobility problems and an inability for patients to control their bowels or bladders.
Most therapies for the condition are designed to relieve discomfort, increase and maintain flexibility, and strengthen the spinal column.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually sufficient for relieving painful flare-ups. Medications such as acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen can be very effective. People experiencing more severe bouts of pain may benefit from epidural injections in the back that deliver steroids directly into the affected area.
- Physical therapy sessions that are guided by an experienced professional are designed to target the spine in order to reinforce it and slow or halt curve progression. Chiropractic manipulation is also helpful for some individuals.
- Spinal decompression surgery is usually not required to treat scoliosis. It may be used for patients who do not respond to conservative care or who are experiencing severe symptoms that are diminishing the quality of life.
If someone you love is living with scoliosis, turn to The Spine Institute in Santa Monica. Our experienced physicians and surgeons can help determine the best treatment options for his or her specific situation. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.