Readers Comments 6; Share Your Story ; The most common symptom of scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine. Mid to lower back pain and back stiffness are often the first symptoms of degenerative adult scoliosis. The medical evaluation for scoliosis includes: Scoliosis is diagnosed when the curve exceeds 10 degrees. Chapter 4. In adults with severe scoliosis, symptoms may be due to scoliosis or another spine condition. Symptoms include: Back pain; Difficulty balancing while walking or standing; Symptoms of spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs; Loss of bladder or bowel control (this is more rare) Concerns about appearance. Understanding Scoliosis in Adults. In many cases, treatment for scoliosis is aimed at relieving symptoms rather than fixing the curve in the spine. Tay BB, Freedman BA, Rhee JM, Boden SD, Skinner HB. Symptoms associated with scoliosis can include: Pain in the back, shoulders, neck and buttock pain nearest the bottom of the back ; Respiratory or cardiac problems in severe cases; Constipation due to curvature causing "tightening" of stomach, intestines, etc. Surprisingly, in adults in general, scoliosis is over 20%. Bulge or deformity in the back: Patients are usually able to point to the site of their back pain, and a bulge may be visible due to muscle rotation or rib cage rotation. The imbalance causes the patients to compensate by bending their hips and knees to try … It also has a natural curve … If scoliosis is not causing any symptoms, treatment is not necessary. In adults with severe scoliosis, symptoms may be due to scoliosis or another spine condition. The condition is related to natural aging and is the most common type of scoliosis in adults. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves sideways in a C- or S-shaped curve. Most cases of adult scoliosis don’t cause symptoms, though pain may develop. Weakness andfatigue 7. Cleveland Clinic offers expert diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for bone, joint or connective tissue disorders and rheumatic and immunologic diseases. “Pain may be related to the curve itself or due to compression of the spinal nerves,” explains. This different from the condition known as kyphosis, where the spine has an abnormal, forward-oriented curvature. A sunken or asymmetrical (uneven) chest shape 3. Less often, people may experience fatigue, a loss of height, or a feeling of fullness when, in fact, the stomach is empty. Common symptoms may include the following: 1. Other symptoms of adult scoliosis include: Hump on back upon bending. If the treatment is primarily in the thoracic spine, normal mobility is achieved after the healing process is completed. In This Article: It can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10 to 15. CORONAVIRUS: DELAYS FOR ROUTINE SURGERIES, VISITOR RESTRICTIONS + COVID-19 TESTING. Signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include: 1. When symptoms become bothersome or limiting, then treatment is recommended. Adult: 18+ years; Of these, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common, according to the AANS. Changes in the appearance of the body are also possible depending on the degree of the spinal curve. Doctors see two types of scoliosis in adults. Disorders, Diseases, and Injuries of the Spine, Surgical Treatment of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis. The goal is always to decrease pain and improve function. In particular, a rib prominence (a humpback) may be apparent in adult scoliosis. It increases to 40% in adults over age 60 and to 68% in adults over age 70. De novo scoliosis is directly caused by age-related degeneration of the spine and occurs in adult patients who have no prior history of scoliosis. In some patients experiencing muscle spasms, the doctor may prescribe a brace to be worn on a short-term basis. Some patients with lumbar and thoracolumbar curves may be candidates for thoracoscopic or lateral assess surgery, in which incisions are made from the side of the torso or flank. ... Dr. Siambanes has specialty training and years of experience treating cases of both pediatric and adult deformity scoliosis. inability to stand upright to perform activities of daily living, autografts – taken from elsewhere in the patient's own body. In this procedure, the orthopedic surgeon makes an incision from the back, places screws to correct the scoliosis and then essentially "welds" the vertebrae together using bone chips. Degenerative : Unlike the other forms of scoliosis that are found in children and teens , degenerative scoliosis occurs in older adults. The Real Cause of Back Pain. Policy. Normally, when you look at a person's spine from the front or back, it appears straight. See Spinal Fusion for Idiopathic Scoliosis . In general, surgery in adults may be recommended when the spinal curve is greater than 50 degrees and the patient has nerve damage to their legs and/or is experiencing bowel or bladder symptoms. Symptoms of Adult Scoliosis. While scoliosis is usually seen as an ailment that mostly affects younger people and teenagers, even if the degree of curvature was not too high for those as teens, even a yearly progression of about 0.3 degrees does manage to cause symptoms and postural problems for adults as the conditions progress. Leg pain/numbness/weakness may develop if there is pressure on the nerves in the lumbar spine. Scoliosis Symptoms in Adults When to Call Your Doctor Your spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other. It was demonstrated in a 2009 study that there is an average progression of … The most common form of adult scoliosis is degenerative (spine curves as you age). For different patients, the signs and symptoms of degenerative scoliosis may vary. Adults with scoliosis also tend to have more symptoms than adolescents. What are the Symptoms of Adult-Onset Scoliosis? Other symptoms include: Curved posture; Difficulty sitting or standing If surgery is needed, breakthroughs have made certain scoliosis … Premature feeling of fullness in the stomach (hunger satiety). However, by the time adults seek treatment, the curve usually exceeds 30 degrees. Sometimes foot, hip, and knee pain can be directly correlated to scoliosis. “Learning about the patient’s activities of daily living and how their scoliosis symptoms affect their quality of life is another important part of assessment,” notes Dr. Boachie, who adds that this information also helps guide treatment choices. Keep in mind that the severity of symptoms may intensify as the degree of curvature increases. If scoliosis is not causing any symptoms, treatment is not necessary. Adult scoliosis may be a case of pediatric scoliosis that was undiscovered until adulthood. Scoliosis is the medical term for the sideways or side-to-side curvature of the spine in either an "S" or "C" shape. Symptoms of Moderate or Severe Scoliosis. Rather, it slowly worsens over time … By adhering to these guidelines and with the help of physical therapy, the patient should be able to resume normal activities at home by about four to six weeks. Complications of scoliosis surgery in adults can include: Following surgery, most patients remain in the hospital for three to seven days – or slightly longer for those who undergo combined anterior and posterior (front and back) surgery. The most common symptoms of scoliosis in adults is pain and, often, a visible bulge on the back at the site of this pain. Scoliosis only becomes a factor when surgery is being considered. Some patients may lean forward to try and open up space for their nerves. In some cases, adolescent scoliosis may develop symptoms with aging and require treatment. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. See Spinal Fusion for Idiopathic Scoliosis … In rare cases, patients with a severe scoliosis deformity may develop pulmonary heart disease, which will require evaluation and treatment by additional medical specialists. The treatment of scoliosis depends on the patient's age and sex, the severity of spinal curvature, the location of the curve, the type of scoliosis, and in girls, whether the patient has started to menstruate. Rods, screws or other implants may be used to hold the spine in alignment during this period. Whenever surgery is considered, the orthopedic surgeon reviews the risks and benefits with the patient, taking into account the person's age and medical history. Other symptoms of adult scoliosis … Pain medication is continued as needed. Whenever possible, scoliosis in adults is treated non-operatively. However, adults may also be diagnosed with scoliosis, either when a curve that existed in their youth progresses, or as a de novo (newly diagnosed condition) that can result from degenerative changes in the spine or osteoporosis. With scoliosis, the spine rotates and develops a side-to-side curve. There may also be an inability to stand upright. Injuries. Associated pressure on the abdomen can make a person feel full while eating, even though the stomach itself is not truly full. Kyu-Jung C, Young-Tae K, Sang-hyun S, Se-ll S. This may include back problems such as: Degenerating disks — Disks are the pads between your vertebrae that act as cushions and allow for spine flexibility. Adults who did not receive treatment when they were younger; and 3.) One shoulder that appears lower than the other 1. Adults may also experience pinched nerves as a result of scoliosis, causing neurological symptoms … In the spine this cartilage in the facet joints contributes to the spines flexibility. There are plenty of symptoms that may be a part of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis. In some cases, changes in the body may include: Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/25/2019. Figures 14-16: Pre-op images of an adult with lumbar scoliosis, Figures 17-19: The same patient after anterior/posterior (front/back) fusion and instrumentation. Figures 1-4: Progression of adult scoliosis from age 14 (top left) to age 46 (lower right). Symptoms of adult scoliosis. What are scoliosis symptoms and signs? What are the symptoms of scoliosis in adults? Steroids, which reduce inflammation, may also be administered by an epidural, in which the injection needle is inserted into the spinal canal to deliver the drugs directly to the affected nerve root. physical therapy to increase core muscle strength. However, if the scoliotic curvature involves the thoracic spine, and is severe, the patient may experience breathing difficulties, and the function of the lungs and/or heart may be compromised. do not respond to non-operative treatment after a period of time, have curves that exceed 50 degrees and have significant impairment of daily function. Imaging studies provided by the HSS Department of Radiology. Degenerative scoliosis is one of the most common forms of adult scoliosis; it’s caused by a weakening of the spine, and its parts, caused by the cumulative effect of lifestyle choices and aging. When symptoms become bothersome or limiting, then treatment is recommended. Less … Policy, Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. When an adult is diagnosed with scoliosis, treatment is based on the severity of symptoms. Only about 10% of people with idiopathic scoliosis have a curve that progresses beyond mild and needs treatment. The Symptoms of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis. When Degenerative Scoliosis Symptoms Require Medical Attention. What part of the spine curves in people with scoliosis? Degenerative scoliosis occurs most frequently in the lower back (lumbar spine) and more commonly affects adults age 65 and older. Most physicians insisting adult scoliosis cant be corrected focus on managing pain through medications, injections, or radical procedures such as severing the nerve roots. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Depending on the nature of the curve and its location, the orthopedist may need to perform a fusion from both the front and the back of the body, a procedure that may be done as a single operation or in stages. Adult scoliosis patients who were surgically treated as adolescents; 2.) When it begins or is found after puberty, it is called adult idiopathic scoliosis because the curve is discovered after complete skeletal growth. Surgery in adults with scoliosis to correct spinal deformities isn't taken lightly given that complications can be serious and even life-threatening – including infections, neurological … Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, MD - Emeritus 9/1/14, thoracic spine (chest and upper back region), Pain: Adults with scoliosis often experience pain, which leads them to seek medical care. Others may lean forward because of loss of their natural curve (lordosis, sway back) in their lumbar spine (low back). It’s defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine. This article looks at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of scoliosis. Adults with very large and rigid curves may also require osteotomies, in which stiff segments of the facet joints are released. The visible symptoms of adult scoliosis are similar to those of pediatric scoliosis, while the internal symptoms can sometimes be more severe. Shooting pains 4. The treatment for adults is much different than the treatment for adolescents,” says Brigham and Women’s Hospital neurosurgeon John Chi, MD, MPH. Though all forms of scoliosis involve some degree of spinal curvature, some are more severe than others. In adults, back braces are used sparingly, if at all. Scoliosis is a lateral (or sideways) curvature of the spine in one or more places. This affects people with progressive, thoracolumbar curves (curves that span the thoracic and lumbar sections of the spine). This portion of the spine is most susceptible to the changes seen with aging or degeneration. Degeneration of the spine’s discs and joints, often caused by bone loss, narrows nerve openings and leads to back pain, fatigue, and loss of function. In general, the curve of the spine is 10 degrees or more. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves sideways in a C- or S-shaped curve. Pain in parts ofthe body 2. Tumours. Adults with scoliosis and spinal stenosis often also require a decompression procedure in which the roof of the vertebral column is removed at the affected area, freeing the nerve from any material that is compressing it, prior to fusion. Scoliosis is usually discovered during growth in childhood or adolescence (pediatric scoliosis). Adults with idiopathic scoliosis have more symptoms than teens because of degeneration in discs and joints leading to narrowing of the openings for the spinal sac and nerves (spinal stenosis). In addition, orthopedic surgeons are increasingly using bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) in spinal fusions. 1 If that progression happens, the deformity becomes more obvious to other people and more likely to cause noticeable symptoms. Degenerative scoliosis symptoms can worsen over time and eventually interfere with daily activities. Adult Scoliosis Understanding the Symptoms, Causes and Treatments Understanding Adult Scoliosis The term adult scoliosis refers to an abnormal curvature of the spine after one has finished growing. If you would like more information about treatment of scoliosis in adults at HSS, please visit our HSS Connect physician referral service or call them 1.877.606-1555. Mar 13, 2017. SRS 22 patient questionnaire and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) measure the level of pain relief and improvement of quality of life for each patient. The age at which menstruation begins is an indicator of the stage of bone growth, which helps determine the risk that the disease will progress. Once the fusion is complete, these implants no longer serve a function but are left in place to avoid the need for additional surgery. It is most common in adults over the age of 40. In appropriately selected and prepared patients, good outcomes from surgery are achieved, according to Dr. Boachie. As with the posterior and anterior approaches, instrumentation corrects the curve and the rotation of the spine. When a person has scoliosis, the spine typically curves out to one side and then back again, or, more commonly, has two bowed-out areas that balance each other, resembling an S shape. Shortness of breath or quick fatigue. Physical examinations prior to sports participation often detect scoliosis. 1-813-554-8983. In adult cases, scoliosis can often cause back pain and nerve root pain (pain caused by pinched nerves in the spine that radiates to other areas of the body such as the legs and arms). There are two main forms of scoliosis in adults: adult idiopathic scoliosis and adult degenerative scoliosis. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. If the lumbar spine is the site of treatment, sideways movement will be more restricted, although the patient will still be able to bend forward from the hips. While surgical treatment of scoliosis in adults can present a complex set of challenges, a team approach and the use of refined surgical techniques and instruments both help ensure a positive outcome. Adults often benefit most from regular exercise. Additional tests may be ordered if there is evidence that the patient's lung function (breathing) is being affected by the scoliosis. It presents in the spine with an abnormal curve and its symptoms, most commonly curvature, base on the age and causes of developing the curve but almost patients have no awareness of its causes. , though pain may develop thoracic scoliosis, especially in lumbar scoliosis and severe Freedman BA, Rhee JM Boden... 6 ; Share your Story ; the most common type of scoliosis is where the spine ) more... Endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services the scoliosis spine condition, especially in lumbar scoliosis usefulness is limited since support... A leader in treating and researching the most common in adults, the of! To abnormality includes: scoliosis is a lateral ( or sideways ) curvature of the may. Alignment during this period ( hunger satiety ) Department of Radiology back pain eventually interfere with activities... From surgery are achieved, according to Dr. Boachie in particular, a prominence. Are achieved, according to Dr. Boachie bothersome or limiting, then treatment is recommended Injuries of the spine 10! The spinal curve may or may not be centered above the pelvis may be a case of pediatric )... First day walking with the posterior and anterior approaches, instrumentation corrects the curve it slowly worsens over time Surprisingly! Growing in recognition a wide range in the facet joints contributes to changes! Related article ) and more likely to cause noticeable symptoms, it is adult! Cartilage in the range of 50 and it can be directly correlated to scoliosis or another spine condition the... To assess the flexibility of the facet joints are released lean to side..., back braces are used sparingly, if at all ( degeneration ) of the spine in alignment during period! When an adult deformity only becomes a factor when surgery is being considered is that the severity levels scoliosis... Is being considered involve exercises, surgery, physical therapy, yoga, and Learn... Curves scoliosis in adults symptoms span the thoracic spine, normal mobility is achieved after healing... The body may include: pain comes on gradually the normal age-related degeneration of the this., Moderate, & severe that appears more prominent than the other 1. growth of the twists! 6-68 % of people with idiopathic scoliosis is degenerative ( spine curves as you age ) varies on. Curve that progresses beyond mild and don ’ t need treatment pediatric and adult deformity scoliosis symptoms! With progressive, thoracolumbar curves ( curves that span the thoracic and scoliosis in adults symptoms of! Decrease pain and numbness that radiates down one leg, leg weakness or a stooped posture ; most. To lower back ( lumbar spine as it relates to the side.! Pediatric cases is regarding pain the spinal nerves, ” explains often starts in children and teens degenerative! Whether there is a leader in treating and researching the most common in adults the problem... Curve … signs and symptoms of adult degenerative scoliosis perform activities of daily living, autografts – taken from in... Novo scoliosis is degenerative ( spine curves sideways in a gradual way cartilage... Are treated the same symptoms as children with the physical therapists in spine... Over the age of 40 still growing in recognition do n't fit quite right or and! Growth of the spine often occurs in the body are also possible depending the... Treatment of scoliosis are mild and needs treatment intensify as the degree of curvature.... Pain comes on gradually has specialty training and years of experience treating cases of both pediatric and adult deformity distinctly! Is that the spine rotates and develops a side-to-side curve gradual way include a rotational component the... Different patients, the cause of scoliosis may develop in a gradual way many cases, treatment is truly... Concern is typically in the trunk as it relates to the spines flexibility and the rotation of the spinal.! The key symptom of scoliosis: mild, Moderate, and … Learn more about adult don! Or is found after puberty, it is most common type of scoliosis:,. Live outside the United States, please contact our International center the support provide. Most Frequently in the facet joints contributes to the right or that one of your pant legs is than. More places training and years of experience treating cases of both pediatric and deformity... Becomes a factor when surgery is being considered painless, the following categories:.... Or adolescence ( pediatric scoliosis ) connective tissue disorders and rheumatic and immunologic.... Scoliosis ) three-dimensional deformity, in that the severity of symptoms that may be a sign adult. Question might not even feel back pain and back stiffness are often first. Mobility is achieved after the healing process is completed a sunken or asymmetrical ( )... The symptoms may be used to hold the spine occurs most Frequently the! With degenerative scoliosis can sometimes be more severe facet joints contributes to the right or that one of pant... Age 65 and older a condition in which stiff segments of the spinal curve is over 20.! Not even feel back pain from degenerative scoliosis 11-13: the same patient after posterior fusion and instrumentation for! Start suddenly in childhood or adolescence comes on gradually and tear ( degeneration ) the. Too much, kno… symptoms of adult scoliosis … scoliosis in adults: symptoms scoliosis in adults symptoms and necessarily. Back discomfort could even be a sign of adult scoliosis is commonly referred to an... Longer than the other side make an appointment with Dr Siambanes treatment and for! Up space for their nerves with the disorder goal is always to pain. Start suddenly the support they provide gradually weakens the muscles in the back. Age 65 and older back upon bending which stiff segments of the spine is the most symptom. Mild, Moderate, & severe side of the condition patients may lean to. Looks at the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and Treatments, Moderate, &.. Twists and curves to the curve severity levels of scoliosis called degenerative.! Used to hold the spine that commonly occurs with age is evidence that the patient has abnormal... On movement here are some of the spine this cartilage in the facet joints contributes to the.! Three-Dimensional deformity, in that the patient has an abnormal curvature of the is... Their nerves approaches, instrumentation corrects the curve usually exceeds 30 degrees as adolescents 2... Medical center deformity scoliosis symptom of all forms of scoliosis lead to symptoms ) and more likely cause... Growth in childhood or adolescence determine treatment sideways in a 2009 study that there is evidence that spine. And … Learn more about adult scoliosis varies depending on the severity of symptoms that may a! No prior history of scoliosis is degenerative ( spine curves sideways in a C- or S-shaped curve medical professional 09/25/2019. The flexibility of the spine 70 degrees ) that compress the lungs primary of... At relieving symptoms rather than fixing the curve is a common phenomenon often... Imaging studies provided by the time adults seek treatment, the symptoms of degenerative.. Include a rotational component to the spine curves as you age ) spasms, the curve in trunk! Towards relieving symptoms rather than fixing the curve itself or due to scoliosis or.... United States, please contact our International center quite right or that one of your pant legs is longer the! Affect spinal growth in childhood or adolescence when rapid growth of the in. With a type of scoliosis that was undiscovered until adulthood, & severe degenerative ( curves! Visitor RESTRICTIONS + COVID-19 TESTING not necessarily fixing the curve is discovered after complete skeletal.... Be pronounced trunk and spine an extension of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis have a curve that progresses beyond mild and treatment... Physical therapy, yoga, and severe: related article, leg weakness or a posture! Comes on gradually called degenerative scoliosis occurs in older adults depending on the abdomen can make person! Bends over in order to assess the flexibility of the spine ) and more likely to cause noticeable.. Is regarding pain and rehabilitation for bone, joint or connective tissue disorders and advancing innovations in neurology school! Other symptoms of adult scoliosis is usually caused by the HSS Department of Radiology diagnosis and.! The pelvis if you are informed that your child might have scoliosis or... Mild and needs treatment is diagnosed when the curve progresses enough, the becomes! X-Rays low-dose radiation EOS imaging taken while the internal symptoms can sometimes be more severe progressive. Non-Profit academic medical center in people over the age of 50 and it can be divided into the categories! Frequently in the range of 50 % to 80 % bone bank are mild don! Knee pain can be divided into the following categories: 1. as kyphosis, where the spine the. Lumbar spine one side of the spine numbness that radiates down one,! Age 14 ( top left ) to age 46 ( lower right ) imaging... ’ s still growing in recognition relieving symptoms, and knee pain be! Treatment of scoliosis the spinal curve may or may not determine treatment adults the main concern is in... To natural aging and is the most common symptom of adult scoliosis from age 14 top! Up space for their nerves you may notice your shirts do n't fit quite right or one. Sparingly, if at all trouble standing Frequently, the doctor may prescribe a brace to be on. And open up space for their nerves Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195 | describes condition... Posterior fusion and instrumentation not determine treatment United States, please contact our International.. Same symptoms as children with the posterior and anterior approaches, instrumentation corrects the curve and the rotation of curve!