Can you correct scoliosis in adults – While most treatment options for Scoliosis such as braces, surgeries, and other options exist mostly for youngsters or teenagers with scoliosis, there are plenty of adults that are afflicted by the condition – in fact, a far greater percentage of adults, almost seven in 10 adults over the age of 60 have scoliosis compared to about 5% in younger populations. What is even more daunting about these statistics is that this number is believed by doctors to increase over the next 20 years, given the increase in life expectancy.
While most doctors tend to take a symptomatic approach to treat adult scoliosis through pain management (such as severing nerves, medications including opiates, injections, etc.) it is untrue that adult scoliosis cannot be treated as a condition in itself. Whether it be spinal degeneration, pain in the back, tiredness, or loss of movement due to the narrowing of nerves, adult scoliosis can certainly be treated effectively. Studies have shown that when the condition is treated rather than the symptoms, the prognosis and the ability to manage pain for patients with scoliosis is actually much better.
Types of Adult Scoliosis
While many people are under the incorrect assumption that scoliosis affects adolescents, it affects a lot of adults as well – in fact, those teenagers struggling with scoliosis find that their condition progresses to adulthood as well. Scoliosis that is experienced in the adolescent years can actually increase up to 2 degrees per year. Apart from scoliosis that develops from the teenage, adults can also develop scoliosis.
There are many types of adult scoliosis. Here is a description briefly outlining the most common types of adult scoliosis.
Idiopathic basically refers to something for which the cause is not known. This type of scoliosis usually occurs when the spine is in its growing stage. While the rate at which the condition progresses becomes less severe as the patient becomes older, the symptoms actually tend to become more severe due to the bending of the spinal curves. This may also cause postural problems such as the need to bend forward to maintain a working posture.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis
While idiopathic scoliosis has an underlying cause which is unknown, degenerative scoliosis, on the other hand, occurs due to issues such as reduced strength in the muscles as well as lower density of the bones. It most commonly occurs in women post-menopause due to poor bone conditions including due to a lack of calcium, similar to conditions such as osteoporosis. In adult degenerative scoliosis, the space between the disks in the spine diminishes, and this can cause pain in both the back and in the legs.
Can you treat scoliosis in adults
If you want to treat chronic scoliosis pain, you will have to choose a multi-pronged approach that includes a variety of treatments for adult scoliosis and multiple forms of interventions. A single fit approach may not work for everyone. Here are some of the aspects that can be included within the bounds of a treatment plan for adult scoliosis.
Various activities that correct the posture and improve the balance of the individual and can help treat both the condition itself, as well as the symptoms and the pain arising from it. Furthermore, various exercises that help improve muscle memory and the brain’s power to recognize imbalances in the posture can also help combat scoliosis.
Whole-body vibration therapy
If the individual has too much pain and is unable to move or exercise, another option that can be chosen is the whole body vibration therapy method. This method strengthens the muscles of the body as well as improves the density of the bone structure, thereby helping patients with scoliosis.
Ensuring that the bones of the body are duly nourished is one of the best steps one can take to combat scoliosis. Various vitamins, such as B, C, and phosphorous, calcium, etc. can be given in the form of nutritional supplements to treat scoliosis in adult patients.
Treatment of Scoliosis in Adults
Apart from the above-mentioned options, one can also exercise the option of braces for treating adults with scoliosis. Depending on the type of braces chosen, the number of hours that a person will have to wear it may vary. However, it should be worn for the minimum number of hours that is prescribed by the physician to ensure that the correction of the spine and the postural imbalances slowly get better. Even if the patient feels a moderate level of discomfort with the brace, while this should be communicated to the physician, the wearing of the brace itself must not be discontinued.
If the spinal curvature of the individual stays below 40 degrees by the time the person matures, it is unlikely that the spine curves more post maturity. In the unfortunate situation where the spinal curvature is beyond 40 degrees post maturity, it is likely to get worse by 1 or 2 degrees with the progression of each year. This could also lead to other conditions such as lung or heart disorders.
If this is the case, often, surgery for scoliosis is suggested, both for treating the condition itself, as well as to treat the symptoms and avoid complications of a curved spine. Another benefit of surgery for scoliosis is the aesthetic aspect of an upright posture. The surgery for scoliosis is usually a spinal fusion which basically means straightening the spinal curve to as upright a position as possible.
This corrective surgery is usually done with implants such as screws and rods that prevent the spine from bending or curving, and that helps them to stay in their upright posture. Further, additional bone grafts may be placed around the site to ensure that the spine remains in the upright position and for the spine to fuse into. Most surgeries do not require for the rods or the hooks to be taken out. The surgery for spinal fusion can either be done through a single cut at the back, or it may be sometimes combined with another cut along the front or on the sides of your body, depending on the space required to do the surgery and the extent of the curvature of the spine.
How is scoliosis treated in adults
When it comes to recovering from the surgery for scoliosis and the scar, it really varies from an individual to individual basis. While there are many types of medication that helping in assisting with pain management initially after the surgery, the best way to get optimal results from a scoliosis surgery is to mobilize the spine as soon as possible with the help of a physiotherapist who will likely help with simple exercises and walking. It is necessary to keep exercising and keep the muscles supple and strong to ensure maximum benefits from the surgery. While the recovery time may vary from person to person, usually, a period of 6 weeks to 6 months is what an average person takes to recover completely.
If you are wondering what the risks involved with the surgery are, there are pretty much the same risks as with any other surgery or intervention. However, the quantum of risk that a person will face for a scoliosis surgery will be dependent on a variety of factors such as how old the patient is, how much the curvature of the spine is, the technique involved in correction, etc. To ensure that the patient remains stable and response, monitoring the nerves of the spinal cord and other key nerves that are present in the surgical site is undertaken during the surgical process. This is done through a monitor that instantly alerts the surgeons as to a risk of damage to the nerves, which allows them to alter their approach and ensure that those parts are not damaged.
While there is a minute risk of infection, this risk can be easily managed with the use of anti-biotics. The other risks to an individual from a scoliosis surgery include damage to nerves, breaking of the rods after the surgery, the requirement of revisional surgery, or continued pain. While these complications are rare, they may still occur in some extreme cases.
If the reason for the scoliosis is a tumour (such as an osteoma), removal of the tumour is usually an effective means to correct scoliosis itself. Those with degenerative scoliosis usually complain of back pain and leg pain. This is due to the compression of the nerves, such as in the case of peripheral neuropathy due to the curvature of the spine. Various treatment options are available in such cases. Such options include physio and physical therapy, exercises, and other options such as acupuncture. If non-invasive procedures fail to make much of a difference, imaging may be required in the form of an MRI or a CT scan prior to surgery.
Once such imagining is obtained, the bone spurs that are causing nerve pain may be removed, or a fusion surgery may be suggested. As per the Spinal Cord Society of Surgeons, an average surgery for scoliosis can cost anywhere around $150,000 and may vary substantially depending on various factors such as the age of the patient, the possibility of complications, the amount of spinal curvature and other factors.
Above all the solutions can help you to treat scoliosis in adults. A healthy lifestyle and good habits can correct scoliosis in adults.