Scoliosis diagnosis and treatment

Though it most commonly occurs in children, scoliosis, or the abnormal curvature of the spine, can also affect adults. Called adult scoliosis, or degenerative scoliosis, this condition causes the spine to curve in an abnormal S or C shape, and usually affects those over the age of 65.

Adult scoliosis diagnosis

Because some people with adult scoliosis may never display any symptoms, diagnosis of this condition may be hard to come by. In fact, many people remain unaware that they are suffering from adult scoliosis until they receive an MRI, X-ray or CT scan for an unrelated reason. Conversely, other patients may experience symptoms that make arriving at a definitive diagnosis a relatively simple process. Some indications that a person has adult scoliosis may include symptoms such as:

  • Uneven shoulders or hips
  • One prominent shoulder blade
  • Neck or back pain
  • Difficulty breathing

Additionally, signs of a compressed nerve root or spinal cord, including chronic pain, numbness or tingling and muscle weakness, may also be indicators of the presence of adult scoliosis.

Adult scoliosis treatment

For most patients with adult scoliosis, treatment begins with a combination of conservative methods of treatment, which aim to manage the patient’s pain and other symptoms rather than correct the curvature itself. Some commonly recommended conservative, nonsurgical treatment options for adult scoliosis include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy
  • Weight loss and other lifestyle changes

If a patient’s adult scoliosis symptoms show no signs of improvement after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, his or her physician may recommend surgery. When this occurs, it is important for patients to consider the many surgical options available to them – including the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. The advanced procedures our neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons perform are alternatives to traditional open spine surgery, and also have a 96 patient satisfaction score^. To learn more about the minimally invasive procedures we perform to treat adult scoliosis, or to receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today.