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What are the Different Adult Scoliosis Treatment Options?

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  • Written By: N.M. Shanley
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Scoliosis is an unexplained, sometimes painful, curvature of the spine, for which there is no cure. While generally discovered and treated during childhood or adolescence, there are some treatments for adults. Adult scoliosis treatment options include exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, braces, and surgery.

Most scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause. There is some evidence that this condition runs in families. Many times, the scoliosis is so mild that no treatment is needed. For people with severe curvature of the spine, some correction is required in order for the patient to look and feel good.

The human spine has natural curves that follow the body. Scoliosis occurs when the spine unnaturally curves sideways, or laterally. This curvature can cause the shoulders, rib cage, hips and pelvis to tilt to the right or left. This is why scoliosis most frequently noticed during adolescent growth spurts.

Adult scoliosis treatment is generally needed when a childhood case has gone unnoticed or untreated. Additionally, adults can experience scoliosis as a result of a spinal fracture, disc injury, or aging. If left untreated, deformities, such as a hunchback appearance, can occur in elderly patients with scoliosis.

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If the spine continues to curve in adulthood, the back can be injured more easily later in life. Very severe cases can affect heart and lung function. Generally, preferred adult scoliosis treatment includes mostly non-surgical methods. Surgery is typically the least common adult scoliosis treatment option.

Exercise, including physical therapy, is often used as an adult scoliosis treatment. Conditioning the back to make it stronger, combined with anti-inflammatory drugs, can alleviate some pain caused by scoliosis. Usually, braces are used only on elderly patients who cannot have surgery. Such a brace may provide some comfort for these sufferers.

Surgery is usually used as an adult scoliosis treatment only for those patients with severe pain and nerve damage. This is an option if and when the scoliosis has not responded to other treatments. Surgery commonly includes rods and pins inserted into the spine to hold it straight, and fusing the vertebrae with bone, to make the correction permanent.

After surgery, the patient must wear a brace or cast for several months while the spine heals. If successful, the patient will experience a correction of the spinal curvature, and pain may be alleviated or eliminated. Many patients return to their normal lifestyle within six months after the procedure.

Patients can also turn to alternative adult scoliosis treatment to avoid surgery. Some people report relief from scoliosis pain after chiropractic adjustments. Such treatments are usually combined with regular exercise to enhance results.

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