Scoliosis causes, symptoms and treatments

Often, when people hear the term scoliosis, they think of a spine condition that develops in children and causes an abnormal curvature of the spine. However, the development of lateral spinal curvature can also occur within the adult population, sometimes developing in people older than the age of 50.

Adult scoliosis can develop as the spine naturally degenerates and weakens with age, allowing key stabilizing components, like discs, facet joints and vertebrae, to move out of alignment. When a disc, joint or vertebra distinctly moves out of the normal alignment of the spine, a curvature in the spine can develop.

As the spine begins to curve to the left or right, the space within the walls of the spinal canal narrow, leaving the spinal cord and its nerve roots with an increased risk of compression. If one of the nerve roots within the spinal canal, or the spinal cord itself, is pinched, severe symptoms may develop.

The symptoms of adult scoliosis

The symptoms of adult scoliosis often develop gradually as the spine begins to curve and press against a nearby nerve. However, as this compression worsens, the symptoms will become more severe, in some cases limiting daily activity.

Common adult scoliosis symptoms include:

  • Abnormal curvature of the spine — can sometimes be identified by a raised shoulder or hip on one side
  • Pain
  • Difficulty bending or twisting in that section of the spine
  • Numbness or tingling
  • A burning sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Poor balance
  • Stiffness

If you begin to develop these symptoms, work with your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Adult scoliosis treatments

If your physician diagnoses you with adult scoliosis, there are several conservative and surgical treatment options available to you. Most commonly, conservative, nonsurgical methods are prescribed first, depending on the cause and severity of your condition. These treatments could include:

  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Medication, including pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections

Surgery becomes an option for patients who do not experience sufficient relief from their symptoms after several months of conservative treatment. If you are considering spine surgery for the treatment of scoliosis, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer patients an outpatient alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery, giving a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^ To help treat adult scoliosis and related symptoms, we provide minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Our procedures are performed with muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a small incision, unlike the techniques used during traditional open back surgery.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, request your no-cost MRI review* from our team.