Scoliosis in adults

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis as an adult, you may be wondering what treatment options are available to you. As the human body has usually finished growing by the age of 18, the methods used to treat scoliosis in adults aren't normally the same as the methods used to treat children/teenagers.

There are two different types of adult scoliosis:

  1. Scoliosis that developed during childhood, but became worse during the patient's adult years
  2. Scoliosis that doesn't develop until adulthood

Though idiopathic scoliosis is usually diagnosed during adolescence, this form of scoliosis can carry through to adulthood if not treated effectively. Scoliosis can also develop later in life - for instance, a large number of older people show signs of scoliosis due to age-related degeneration.

Scoliosis Treatment Options for Adults

Some treatment methods that work well for children and adolescents (whose bodies are still growing) are not suitable for adults with scoliosis. Bracing, for example, does not work for adults as the spine is already fully developed.

Depending on the severity of the spinal curvature, adult scoliosis treatment methods can differ vastly. If the curvature is mild, exercise and over-the-counter painkillers may be sufficient to treat the symptoms of scoliosis. For moderate to severe cases of adult scoliosis, however, the following treatment options may be utilised:

  • Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy treats scoliosis through a variety of different exercises and stretches which can help realign the spine. This type of therapy can help improve mobility and flexibility, and can also help to reduce the curvature dramatically. This treatment method combines stretches, exercises, and massages to reduce the symptoms of scoliosis.

  • Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is another non-surgical scoliosis treatment method that many adults find effective. Hydrotherapy is a good option for patients who feel as though they would struggle with land-based physiotherapy. The water provides additional support and eases pressure on the patient's joints.

  • Pain Management

Pain management can involve painkillers and injections which help to relieve the pain associated with scoliosis. Pain relief drugs vary hugely in their strength, and your prescription will depend on the severity of your pain.

  • Surgery

The majority of adult scoliosis cases will not require surgery, but in the most severe cases, it may be recommended. Surgery is usually recommended if the curvature is severe and increasing, or if other treatment methods have not had the desired effect.

Scoliosis SOS: Treating Scoliosis for Over a Decade

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have been providing an alternative scoliosis treatment options for adults and children alike for more than 10 years. Our ScolioGold courses use a mixture of highly specialised physiotherapy techniques to help ease and improve the symptoms of scoliosis.

Our unique combination of treatment methods offers patients an unrivalled level of treatment success, and we are continually changing and developing our ScolioGold course to incorporate the latest advances in non-surgical scoliosis treatment.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you with our scoliosis treatment courses, please get in touch today to book a consultation.

Scoliosis through life
 
While scoliosis is typically diagnosed during adolescence, the condition can also lead to complications later in life, particularly when left untreated. Most cases of spinal curvature are treated before any major complications occur; if left untreated, however, there is a chance that scoliosis may lead to more serious problems for the patient in question. Some people who undergo spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis also experience complications later in life.
 

What complications can occur later in life if scoliosis is left untreated?

If scoliosis is left untreated for long periods of time, it can lead to chronic pain and a variety of other complications. Most of the symptoms listed below will only occur after the patient's scoliosis has reached an advanced degree of curvature, and can usually be avoided as long as the condition is treated in a timely manner:
  • Breathing problems
If scoliosis is left untreated for many years, the increasing curvature of the spine can cause the ribs to restrict lung capacity. This can lead to shortness of breath.
  • Leg pain
Advanced cases of scoliosis can cause one leg to appear shorter than the other due to misalignment of the hips. This can change the patient's posture and gait (how they walk), which in turn causes the muscles to tire sooner due to over-compensation to maintain balance.
  • Cardiovascular problems
If the curvature of the spine reaches a particularly severe point, the restriction of the rib cage can lead to heart problems. In the most severe cases, this may even lead to heart failure; however, this only occurs in a tiny minority of cases.
  • Lumbar stenosis
While scoliosis is unlikely to cause any severe neurological problems no matter how old you are, it is associated with lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can ultimately lead to nerve complications, weakness or leg pain.
 

Post-surgery complications

When surgery is conducted on (or near) the spine, there is always a possibility of short-term or long-term complications. In the case of scoliosis, spinal fusion surgery can sometimes lead to the following complications in later life:
  • Flat-back deformity
After surgery to rectify scoliosis, the natural 'C'-shaped sagittal curve of the lower back may be lost. This is due to the vertebrae in the lumbar spine fusing together, thus eliminating the natural curvature. This deformity typically appears later in life, sometime between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • Transitional syndrome
When the spine is working correctly, each segment shares the weight and stress of everyday movement and activities. However, when one or more segments are not working correctly, the others have to take on more stress to account for this. This means that, if your vertebrae are fused together, the closest vertebrae to the fusion site will begin to take on more stress and may ultimately become damaged over time.
 
 
Scoliosis can cause many complications later in life, but if you seek treatment before your spine deteriorates too far, many of these issues can be nipped in the bud and avoided altogether. Surgery is not your only option when it comes to improving the curvature of your spine - here at Scoliosis SOS, we provide non-surgical treatment courses that have shown to be very effective indeed.
 
To discuss scoliosis treatment options, please book a consultation - this can be conducted over the phone, via Skype, or in person at our clinic in London.
Can You Get Scoliosis at Any Age?

Since the vast majority of scoliosis sufferers are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 15, it's easy to assume that this condition doesn't really affect people either side of that age bracket. Certainly, if you've glanced at our Patient Experiences page, you may be under the impression that everyone we treat is either a teenager or an adult who was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager but didn't do anything about it at the time.

But the truth is that scoliosis doesn't always develop within that 5-year window. The condition often makes itself known during adolescence because this is when you go through growth spurts, periods of rapid growth during which the spine becomes more prone to curvature. However, some children do develop scoliosis years prior to hitting puberty (this is known as 'juvenile scoliosis' - see Treating Scoliosis in Young Children), and many older people who previously had perfectly healthy spines develop scoliosis later in life due to factors such as osteoporosis and the natural ageing and weakening of the human body over time.

So the answer to the question, 'Can you get scoliosis at any age?' is 'Yes - it's most likely to develop during adolescence, but there is ample evidence that the condition can develop earlier or later in life.'

This brings us to question #2...

What treatments are available for scoliosis sufferers?

Scoliosis can be treated in a number of different ways. Spinal fusion surgery is often utilised as a means of correcting the spinal curve, but this is a risky, invasive procedure that many patients would rather avoid. Surgery may be a particularly undesirable course of action if the patient is very young or very old.

Thankfully, there are alternatives. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis sufferers using a combination of non-surgical techniques that we collectively refer to as the ScolioGold method - this is an exercise-based regime that helps patients to overcome the symptoms of their spinal curvature and improves their quality of life immeasurably.

Contact us now to arrange an initial consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, or click one of the links below to see the results we've helped patients of different ages to achieve.
Scoliosis can be an incredibly debilitating condition even at the best of times, but when the person with the curved spine is also pregnant, the results can be catastrophic.
 
Pregnancy
Original photo by Thomas Pompernigg
 
Yes, scoliosis and pregnancy are a troublesome combination. The weight of your unborn child significantly increases the load on your spine, and this can cause scoliosis to progress rapidly over the course of the pregnancy. Bearing children tends to leave scoliosis sufferers even worse off than before; post-birth, the mother's Cobb angle will often be far greater than it was before she became pregnant, and the symptoms of her spinal curvature far harder to ignore.
 
Knowing this, many scoliosis sufferers decide never to have children, but if you want to be a parent then you don't have to let your curved spine get in the way.

How can we help?

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we have helped many scoliosis sufferers to sidestep the problems that often accompany pregnancy when your spine is abnormally curved.
 
In this video, Nancy Laudon (22, New York City) talks about her wish to have more children and how ScolioGold treatment gave her the confidence to get pregnant again without worrying about her scoliosis progressing.
 
People with scoliosis frequently come to us and complete a ScolioGold course before conceiving a child, and our treatment techniques help to keep their scoliosis stable during pregnancy. Many of these patients have also reported that they generally did not suffer from the back pain that commonly affects pregnant women, even those with perfectly healthy spines.
 
Roz Couch (46, Surrey) came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic for treatment in 2006 prior to having any children. Our ScolioGold treatment course reduced her Cobb angle measurement, and as the X-rays below illustrate, this result has been maintained (and indeed reduced slightly further) over the last 10 years and through two pregnancies.
 
Roz Before & After
 
Cobb angle measurement 10 years on
 
After 10 Years & 2 Pregnancies
January 2016 34⁰ & 38⁰
 
Roz's story was featured in Baby Surrey magazine shortly after the birth of her first child - here's what she had to say about her experience:
 

"I had great results in my 4 weeks, reducing my scoliometer reading by nearly 50%...over the months that followed, and continuing the exercises each day, I saw a lot of my old pains disappear."

Baby Surrey Magazine
"Commitment and hard work are the key but given that option and the option of having surgery, I know which one I would choose every time!"
 
If you are thinking of having a child, but you are worried about the effect that pregnancy might have on your curved spine, please contact us to book an initial consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and find out how we can help you.
Famous People with Scoliosis
 

Scoliosis affects roughly 4% of the population - that's 1 in every 25 people, or just under 300 million people worldwide.

 
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to discover that many celebrities and public figures are affected by this condition. We've even treated some of them here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, including EastEnders actress Rita Simons:
 
 
Here are 4 other people you've probably heard of who suffer (or used to suffer) from scoliosis:

Usain Bolt

Jamaican sprinter Usain St. Leo Bolt has won six Olympic gold medals to date, and with the 2016 Games taking place in Brazil this summer, one suspects he'll be adding to that tally very soon. Bolt has said that his curved spine "really hampered" his early career, but obviously the condition has done very little to slow him down more recently!
 
Here's what Bolt had to say when asked about his scoliosis in a 2011 interview with ESPN:
 
"When I was younger it wasn't really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine's really curved bad...but if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn't really bother me. So I don't have to worry about it as long as I work hard."
 

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar - best known for her leading role in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series - grew up with scoliosis, and she still has trouble with the condition today. According to this Daily Mail article, Gellar finds that "working out on the treadmill and Pilates" both help her to deal with her spinal curvature.
 

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was the guitarist and lead singer of grunge band Nirvana, who formed in 1987 and achieved international fame in the years leading up to Cobain's tragic death by suicide in 1994. Cobain seemingly suffered from pain throughout his lifetime - here is an excerpt from an interview that the troubled frontman gave in 1993 (the interview can be read in its entirety here):
 
"I had mild scoliosis in junior high, and since I've been playing guitar ever since, the weight of the guitar has made my back grow in this curvature. So when I stand, everything is sideways, it's weird.
 
"I go to a chiropractor every once in a while...most people have a small curvature in their spine anyhow, though some people have it really bad and have to wear metal braces. It gives me back pain all the time. That really adds the pain to our music. It really does."
 

Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Hollywood star Judy Garland, and she has had a hugely successful acting career in her own right, appearing in films like Cabaret (for which she won an Oscar) and TV shows like Arrested Development. Here, in her own words, is how Minelli found out about her scoliosis:
 
"I didn't realise I had anything wrong with my back until...I guess it was around the time of [1969 movie] The Sterile Cuckoo that Fred [Karlin, composer] said, 'Come on, somebody's imitating you. Let's go see her.' So we go down to one of those places that used to be in the Village and we sit down and I'm all excited and this girl comes on and she goes like this: [walks with twisted, uneven shoulders]
 
"I was so indignant. I said, 'I don't do that.' And he said, 'Yes, you do.' I found out that because of the scoliosis, if I lean back one way, it hurts."
 
If you suffer from scoliosis, attending a four-week course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may help you to overcome your condition and significantly improve your quality of life. Click here to get in touch and book an initial consultation.
 
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