Adult Scoliosis is a spinal abnormality that occurs during adulthood, or is a continuation of the disease that was undiagnosed or ignored during childhood or adolescence.
Adult Scoliosis is generally idiopathic, which means that its cause is unknown. However, several other types of Scoliosis also occur in adults. These include congenital curve, paralytic curve, and myopathic deformity.
A congenital curve is present at birth, and if undiagnosed or untreated, may worsen in adulthood due to age and weakening of the spine. This results in Adult Scoliosis. A paralytic curve may be caused by an injury to the spine, while myopathic deformity may result from diseases like polio or cerebral palsy. Degeneration, osteoporosis, and spinal surgery are other causes of Adult Scoliosis.
Signs of Adult Scoliosis include one shoulder or hip higher than the other, a rib or back hump, and one arm longer than the other. Severe cases of Scoliosis are often accompanied by pain because the abnormal curvature creates pressure on the spine. This may even lead to difficulty in walking.
Doctors subject individuals suspected to be suffering from Scoliosis to the Adam’s Forward Bending Test. Test results are confirmed through X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. Treatment options include medication, physical exercise, bracing, and surgery.
Medication is recommended by doctors to relieve pain caused by Scoliosis. Physical exercise, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, helps to keep the body fit and maintain a correct posture. These counter the deforming effect of Scoliosis. Exercise also helps to reduce pain. Physical therapists can design exercise programs to suit the different needs of patients. Bracing in adults is used to ease pain and discomfort rather than prevent worsening of the curve, while surgery is generally used as the last resort.
Surgery becomes essential if the spinal curve is greater than 50 degrees and is accompanied by continuous pain. It is also conducted if the curve is increasing, because this could cause heart and lung problems. In certain cases, deformity caused by the disease necessitates surgery.
To conclude, Scoliosis in adults can be largely avoided through proper treatment of the disease in its early stages, during childhood or adolescence. The earlier the treatment commences, the lesser will be the pain and discomfort, and chances of surgery. Leading a healthy lifestyle can also curb its occurrence during adulthood.