Scoliosis is often thought to affect children and teenagers, however, it can also affect adults as well. It is called late onset scoliosis…
Late Onset Scoliosis
Late onset scoliosis is a fancy term for scoliosis that affects adults instead of young people. According to this University of Maryland Medical Center artcile:
“Degenerative adult scoliosis occurs when the combination of age and deterioration of the spine leads to the development of a scoliosis curve in the spine. Degenerative scoliosis begins after the age of 40. In older patients, particularly women, it is also often related to osteoporosis. The osteoporosis weakens the bone making the bone more likely to deteriorate. The combination of these changes causes the spine to lose its ability to maintain a normal shape. The spine begins to “sag” and as the condition progresses, a scoliotic curve can slowly develop.
The purpose of this information is to help you understand:
The causes of degenerative adult scoliosis
How a diagnosis is made in degenerative adult scoliosis
Degenerative adult scoliosis and its treatment
In order to understand your symptoms and treatment choices, you should start with some understanding of the general anatomy of your spine. This includes becoming familiar with the various parts that make up the spine and how they work together.
Please review the document, entitled:
Anatomy and Function of the Spine
When scoliosis occurs (or is discovered) after puberty, the condition is called “adult scoliosis”. Adult scoliosis can be the result of untreated or unrecognized childhood scoliosis, or it can actually arise during adulthood. The causes of scoliosis that begins in adulthood are usually very different from those of childhood scoliosis.
Scoliosis that develops in adulthood can be a “secondary” cause of another spinal condition that affects the vertebrae of the spine. Other conditions might include degeneration, osteoporosis (loss of bone mass), or osteomalacia (softening of the bones). Scoliosis can also appear following spinal surgery for other conditions. The surgery may cause an imbalance in the spine that leads to scoliosis. Most of these “secondary” causes of scoliosis are considered degenerative adult scoliosis.
Degenerative adult scoliosis usually begins as low back pain. While there may also be a deformity that causes the back to look peculiar, usually it is pain that brings patients into the spine specialist’s office. The pain is probably not coming from the curve. Rather, the degeneration occurring in the spine is causing pain in the low back, and the degeneration process is causing the curve to form.
A combination of the degeneration of the spine and scoliosis deformity may cause pressure on nerves and possibly even the entire spinal cord. This can lead to: weakness, numbness, and pain in the lower extremities. In severe cases, pressure on the spinal cord itself may cause loss of coordination in the muscles of the legs making it difficult to walk normally. [READ SOURCE ARTICLE]
One method of treating late onset scoliosis is soft scoliosis braces for adults.
However, the treatment option recommended by a physician will depend on the curvature as well as whether or not scoliosis bracing would work.
Pivonka Family Chiropractic
1355 S Higley Rd #102
Gilbert, AZ 85296