Top Treatments for Scoliosis by a Leading Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
Our treatment options for scoliosis in adults range from operative to non-operative approaches. Extensively trained in anterior and minimally invasive spinal surgeries, Dr. Melanie Kinchen, M.D. brings over 15 years of experience in surgical and other spinal treatments. Dr. Kinchen is familiar with various means of how to correct scoliosis and manage the condition in adults.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine in adults, but it also occurs in children and adolescents. The spine curves naturally. With scoliosis, an x-ray will show an unusual “S” or “C” shape characteristic of the condition. A curve of more than 10 degrees or greater is considered scoliosis—the adult form is found in people of at least 18 years of age and older. Poor posture, physical activity, or carrying heavy objects does not cause adult-onset scoliosis.
Types of Scoliosis in Adults
There are two forms of the condition that cause scoliosis symptoms in adults:
- Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis: A continuation of scoliosis from childhood or as a teenager. The condition may continue to progress into adulthood, as curves increase in size (from 0.5 to 2 degrees) each year. It occurs as thoracic or lumbar scoliosis and may or may not get worse over time—curves over 50 degrees are most likely to progress. Physical signs include asymmetrical shoulders, rib hump, or pronounced curvature of the lower back, but older patients may experience disc degeneration, arthritis, and bone spurs.
- Degenerative Scoliosis: As the spinal discs degenerate unevenly, they begin to tilt, causing scoliosis to develop during adulthood. Pressure on the spine and gravity can amplify the curvature. The condition progresses as arthritis affects the facet joints and disc spaces become wedged. Degenerative scoliosis usually affects the lower back. From the side, the spine typically looks straighter than usual.
Scoliosis Symptoms in Adults
An idiopathic condition is often accompanied by loss of balance as patients lean forward or try to maintain an upright posture by bending their hips and knees forward. Lower back pain and stiffness are common, while pinched nerves can cause leg pain, numbness, or cramping. Fatigue can occur with strained lower back and leg muscles. Spinal stenosis caused by disc degeneration causes back pain, numbness, and shooting pains in the legs. A thoracic curve over 80 degrees may affect lung function, causing shortness of breath.
Diagnosed using x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, or computerized tomography, treatments for scoliosis range from observation to surgery. Most people don’t require surgery. Alternatives to scoliosis surgery include:
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Exercise to strengthen back/abdominal muscles
- Scoliosis brace for adults for pain relief
- Epidurals or nerve block injections
In terms of scoliosis treatments for adults, non-surgical approaches are often preferred. If the recommendation is scoliosis surgery, adults have options from a doctor who knows how to correct scoliosis. The most common types of scoliosis surgery include:
- Vertebral column resection
Visit 360 Back & Spine Center
Our team is trained and experienced to deal with scoliosis pain in adults and various forms of adult scoliosis treatment. From pain management to more interventional approaches, we work to find a solution that works for you. Learn more and schedule an appointment in Grapevine or Fort Worth, TX by calling us at 682-223-1406.