Scoliosis is defined by a curvature of the spine that takes the shape of an ‘S’ or a ‘C’. Although it often manifests in young people, it can also develop in adults. Scoliosis in adults can have multiple causes, including pelvic imbalance, heredity, deformities in the knees or feet, spinal or joint surgery, or even trauma to the brain.
It’s important to note that not all curves are created equal. Scoliosis treatment for adults involves bracing and surgery for mild to severe instances. The best course of action if you think you have scoliosis is to talk to your doctor.
Those who do not have scoliosis have a more flexible spine than those who do. When you walk, your spine flexes and twists to the left and right before settling back into its neutral position in the middle. Because their spines are curved, people with scoliosis have trouble walking in a straight line.
What Are the Signs And Symptoms of Adult Scoliosis?
In adults, scoliosis most commonly manifests itself through discomfort and, typically, a noticeable protrusion on the back at the region of pain. Rarely people may feel tired all the time, shortened in stature, or think they’re full when their stomach is actually empty.
- Pain: Scoliosis in adults is often painful, prompting a visit to the doctor. Spinal nerve compression and associated pain have been linked to scoliosis. Muscles on the convex side have to work harder to maintain postural balance, whereas the concave muscles have a mechanical disadvantage, leading to fatigue and pain. Particularly after engaging in convex-side tasks, this leads to exhaustion and failure. Spinal stenosis is when the spinal cord becomes narrowed, causing nerves to get pinched. Leg discomfort, numbness, or weakness might be brought on by prolonged walking or standing if the stenosis is to blame for the inflammatory response of the nerves.
- Disfigurement or enlargement of the back: Most people with back discomfort can pinpoint where it hurts, and a bulge may be apparent if the patient rotates their muscles or rib cage. The pelvis and the trunk are not perfectly symmetrical. There’s also a chance you won’t be able to stand without support.
Some adults with scoliosis also report the following symptoms:
- Stature. The lowering of height.
- Weakness or shortness of breath. Patients with broad and progressive curves (above 70°) that compress the lungs are at risk for this condition.
- Intestinal fullness before its time. People with progressive thoracolumbar curvature are at risk for this. Although one’s stomach may not be completely full, one may get a sensation of fullness due to the accompanying pressure on the abdomen.
How Can Medical Professionals Identify Scoliosis in Adults?
When diagnosing scoliosis, doctors look at the following factors:
- Getting checked up medically.
- The flexibility of the curve can be evaluated by X-rays or low-dose radiation EOS imaging while the patient is in a bent position.
- EOS imaging or low-dose X-rays taken from the front and side when the patient is standing straight up can be used to determine the exact severity of the curve.
When the curvature of the spine is greater than 10°, a diagnosis of scoliosis is made. But by the time an adult seeks help, the curvature has typically surpassed 30°.
During scoliosis treatment for adults, the doctor will also check for spinal stenosis symptoms with a combination of the patient’s medical history. Further diagnostic evaluation may be required if there is concern that the scoliosis is compromising the patient’s respiratory function. Rarely, people with a severe scoliosis deformity may also develop pulmonary heart disease, necessitating the care of additional physicians. Understanding how patients’ scoliosis symptoms impact their daily lives is also crucial.
Scoliosis can have serious consequences for a person’s quality of life and mobility, so it’s important to get a professional opinion before beginning any scoliosis treatment for adults. Discomfort is always minimised, and functionality is improved.