Adult scoliosis

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine has an abnormal curve. Normally, your spine, also known as your backbone, has a slight, natural curve. However, with scoliosis, your spine bends into a sharper C or S shape.

Scoliosis symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Backache or lower back pain
  • A tired feeling in your middle back after sitting or standing a long time
  • Uneven hips or shoulders (one shoulder higher than the other)
  • Curving of the spine more to one side

Scoliosis causes and risk factors

Idiopathic adult scoliosis

The most common type of adult scoliosis, is a type of scoliosis that is present during adolescent years and becomes worse during adulthood

Degenerative adult scoliosis

Begins after age 40 and is caused by a combination of age and deterioration of the spine

Other less frequent causes of scoliosis include:

  • Curvature due to osteoporosis (most common in older patients, especially women)
  • Previous fractures of the spine
  • Slipped vertebrae or spondylolisthesis
  • Infections and tumors of the spine

Scoliosis treatment options

Treatment options for scoliosis vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Age of the patient
  • The cause of scoliosis
  • Where the curve is located on the spine
  • How big the curve is (usually measured in degrees)

Treatment options for scoliosis include:

  • Observation
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing
  • Surgery
Last reviewed: 
July 2016

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