Mild scoliosis in adults While many people feel like they have to live with their scoliosis, the truth is that there are multiple treatment options to treat the condition. Irrespective of whether your scoliosis is severe or mild, there are strategies that can be adopted to make the curvature of your spine straighter and to address the painful symptoms that arise from this condition – with or without surgical intervention. If you are curious about what your options are, read this article further to understand your options!
What is Mild Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is usually termed in degrees of severity based on the degree of the curvature of the spine. For instance, if your spinal curvature is only up to about 20 degrees, such Scoliosis is termed as mild scoliosis. Mild scoliosis can further be compartmentalized into different categories. Here are the various categories that mild spinal scoliosis may fall under:
- Based on the area of occurrence, such as in the thoracic region of the spine. This type of scoliosis is usually most prevalent in children or teen sand more uncommon in adults.
- Scoliosis of the lumbar region of the spine: The lumbar region is basically the lower back, which is one of the most common spots for back pain and back trauma. This type of scoliosis is more common in adults compared to thoracic scoliosis.
- Mild levoscoliosis refers to the condition wherein the spinal curvature is towards the right side. This can be in different parts of the spine. For instance, if you are diagnosed with mild thoracic dextrose scoliosis, it refers to the curvature of the spine towards the right-hand side, of the thoracic region.
- Mild Kyphosis refers to an increased or abnormal rounding of the back, almost like a bend.
Another type of scoliosis diagnosis is an idiopathic diagnosis, which is common in adolescents – you may have come across the term adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at some point or another. Idiopathic scoliosis simply means that the cause for the condition or the curvature of the spine cannot be ascertained with certainty. To be diagnosed with adolescent scoliosis, you will have to be within the teenage years of between 12-18.
Mild scoliosis symptoms in adults
While there may be no distinguishable or immediately apparent symptoms of scoliosis, the conditions work in a manner that as the years progress without treatment, the worse it gets. You may be able to tell that there is something wrong only due to subtle indications such as problems with posture or walking, and changes in gait and symmetry of the body. Here are some of the most common symptoms of scoliosis.
- There is usually a curvature of the spin of about 10-20 degrees.
- While the most at-risk group are young pre-pubescent girls, the condition can also affect young boys and adults as well.
- Pain is not a marked symptom of the existence (or the lack of thereof) of scoliosis.
- Problems with gait, such as body tilting to either the left or the right side excessively, tilting of the head to one side, postural problems, or problems with body symmetry may be indicative of the condition.
- Due to postural problems, the way clothes fit, or the length of the legs, shoulders, shoulder blades, hips, and rib cage may appear uneven (higher on one side compared to the other side).
- Another possible symptom is that the blades of the spine stick out or are very apparently visible while bending forward – however, this symptom may not be clearly visible in people who have a larger body fat percentage.
Mild Scoliosis Progression
While most often than not people are told to live with their scoliosis and are advised not to do anything about it, studies have demonstrated that irrespective of the type of curvature of the spine, the likelihood of it progressing further is quite likely. While it is true that the initial curvature plays a role in how much the spine is going to further curve, mild scoliosis has about a 22% chance of becoming worse. If the degree of the curvature is beyond 20 degrees, the risk of adverse progression becomes almost 68% – a significant risk!
Various studies have demonstrated that whether the scoliosis is idiopathic or degenerative, depending on the curvature of the spine, the curvature continued to worsen, even in adults above the ages of 45. While scoliosis is usually seen as an ailment that mostly affects younger people and teenagers, even if the degree of curvature was not too high for those as teens, even a yearly progression of about 0.3 degrees does manage to cause symptoms and postural problems for adults as the conditions progress. It was demonstrated in a 2009 study that there is an average progression of about 2 degrees for those below the age of 69, and an average of about 2.5 degrees if the person is above the age of 69 respectively, every year. If the condition in question is levoscoliosis, the average rate of increase jumps from 2 to 3 degrees each year.
A common misconception that most people have is that the progression of the curvature of the spine is steady and can be predicted. However, this is false. While some people may not face any progression or worsen of the curvature of their spines, in other cases, even mild curvatures might see drastic worsening. This is especially true in the case of teenagers due to possible hormonal changes that take place in the body during the time of puberty. Similarly, given that bone density and strength are affected during menopause, menopausal women may also see a sudden deterioration or worsening of their symptoms and pain. This can also be due to conditions similar to osteoporosis, where the amount of calcium and vitamins that the bones receive and are able to absorb degenerate over time.
Mild Scoliosis Pain
There are a number of pains that can be associated with scoliosis. Some of the common types are headaches, Hip Pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and pain in the neck. Most people are surprised to be diagnosed with scoliosis later in life because it is quite possible that none of the symptoms shows up during childhood and teenage years! It has been demonstrated in research that about 20% of teenagers with scoliosis experience back pain, while over 90% of adult patients have some type of pain symptom or another. Responses to a pain questionnaire demonstrate that those children with scoliosis are almost 40% (or more) likely to report pain than those children or teenagers without spinal curvatures. The afflicted children are also likely to absent themselves from school more often and abstain from physical activities indicating that the pain from scoliosis is not as manageable as previously assumed by most.
Mild scoliosis in adults treatment
Mild Scoliosis treatment While the usual treatment plan is to just observe until the curvature crosses about 25 degrees, there are significant advantages of catching the curvature early and treating it effectively before the conditions and the symptoms can worsen. One of the problems with treating scoliosis is that it is something that most doctors and pediatricians do not have too much awareness about, and hence, the treatment options that can be exercised are left unexplored by patients. The usual standard procedure is a reference to an orthopedic or an orthopedic surgeon who will then surgically treat the curvature. However, this is not the only option and there are other treatment options that you can explore!
Unfortunately, one of the things that has made the disease much worse for many people suffering from scoliosis is the assumption that nothing can be done until the curvature progresses to an extent that requires surgical intervention. It is quite possible that not acting in time can actually make the condition much worse. Depending on the extent of the curvature of the spine and when it is detected, early intervention and treatment may even prevent the need for a more radical intervention at a later point in time. However, this depends on a variety of factors such as the age of the individual, when the curvature started, the shape of the curve, size of it, etc.
Why Treat Mild Scoliosis Urgently ?
Like with any other disease or condition, the faster it is treated, the easier it is to solve. Research demonstrates that smaller scoliosis curves respond quite well to exercise-based correction and the requirement of scoliosis bracing may not even be necessary if treated with exercise at the right time. However, to ensure that these non-radical, non-invasive interventions work, the corrective steps must be taken before the spinal curvature can extend up to 30 degrees or more. Various exercises including stretching are suggested to combat scoliosis. Similarly, isometric and isotonic yoga for scoliosis is also touted as dependable solutions towards treating scoliosis.
One of the problems is that it is not possible to judge whether a person is suffering from scoliosis or not based on their mere appearance. While they may seem to look perfectly normal, it is quite possible that the spinal bend is almost even 70 degrees! Apart from the spinal curvature, in some cases, the spine can twist or become ‘rounded’ as well, forming a sort of hump. Therefore, finding the curve before it can exacerbate can be tremendously helpful towards ensuring a good outcome.
Can Mild Scoliosis Be Corrected?
There are various methods through which mild scoliosis can be corrected. While the earlier part of this article dispelled the myth that only surgical intervention for severe scoliosis can be corrected, read on to understand what are the ways you can treat mild scoliosis.
- Getting A Precision X-Ray: Like stated earlier, it is impossible to know whether an individual is suffering from scoliosis by merely looking at them. A precision x-ray is a solution that helps you treat the conditions of your scoliosis at home. With exercises designed to fit your exact needs that are determined based on a variety of factors such as balance and posture testing, motion testing, laser scanning of feet arches, and other assessments of requisite parameters can give you an ideal exercise plan to eliminate your scoliosis symptoms. The best part about this sort of a treatment plan is that it is quick in terms of results and customized towards the need of each individual patient.
Mild Scoliosis Exercises
Another important aspect that can be considered to treat your scoliosis symptoms is a scoliosis exercise program that you can do at home. This is a program that is designed to fit the needs of each individual based on factors such as their age, type of curvature, the extent of the curve, when it was diagnosed, etc. Usually, the patient is required to perform the exercises once or twice a day, depending on the plan. With a combination of treatment at home (which you can do yourself), and with the help of your doctor, you can easily treat your condition.
Usually, most centres have treatment plans that you can choose depending on what you believe your needs are, and the extent of your condition. For instance, you can either opt for visits twice a week over a period of two to three months, at about an hour and a half per visit or opt for the more intensive plan of a period of one to two weeks for three to five hours a day for five days a week.
Choosing a plan to treat your scoliosis should be made after placing consideration upon factors such as the level of pain you are experiencing, the extent of the spinal curve (how many degrees it is curved up to), the rate of degeneration, your age, and other parameters. A more severe condition may require a more intensive treatment approach.
Mild Scoliosis Bracing
If you manage to spot scoliosis early enough and treat it through exercises, there is rarely any need for braces for mild scoliosis. If you still believe that you can do better with bracing to treat your condition, usually a brace at night alone would suffice, ensuring that you can do all of your other activities peacefully and without too much trouble during the rest of the day.