Cranial Conditions

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis: abnormal curvature of the adult spine due to degenerative changes.

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Scoliosis, typically developed during childhood, can also manifest in adults, specifically referring to those who have completed their growth phase, post-puberty and over the age of 18. Adult scoliosis is distinct from its childhood counterpart in both its causes and treatment objectives, particularly in skeletally mature individuals.

This musculoskeletal disorder impacts the spine’s structure, leading to a side-to-side curvature rather than the normal front-to-back curves. When viewed from behind, a scoliotic spine resembles a “C” or “S” shape, indicative of this lateral deviation.

Understanding Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Among various types of adult scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis is common and occurs due to age-related degenerative changes primarily in the lumbar spine. These changes in the spine’s vertebrae and discs, typical as one ages, can lead to the side-to-side curvature known as adult degenerative scoliosis. This condition generally affects individuals aged 40 and older and may progressively worsen each year.

Causes and Contributing Factors

The development of adult degenerative scoliosis is attributed to aging combined with wear and tear on the spinal structures. This deterioration often leads to a loss of spinal integrity and shape.

The condition is frequently linked to osteoporosis in older women, where weakened, porous bones are prone to deterioration. Osteoarthritis also contributes by causing excessive wear on the spinal joints, potentially leading to a spinal deformity and the emergence of an abnormal curvature.

Symptoms of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Typically presenting in the lumbar spine, adult degenerative scoliosis is marked by a loss of the normal lordotic curve. Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent backache or lower back pain
  • Numbness, weakness, or pain in the legs
  • Visible curvature of the spine to one side
  • Possible presence of a back hump
  • Uneven hips or shoulders

Diagnosis of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Diagnosis involves several steps:

  • Medical History Review: This includes discussions with the doctor and an examination of medical records to identify any contributing conditions.
  • Physical Examination: Observations during this exam, especially when the patient bends forward, help highlight spinal irregularities, such as uneven rib cages, pelvic tilt, and unlevel shoulders.
  • Imaging Studies: Necessary to confirm abnormal spinal curves and investigate potential underlying causes, these may include X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs of the spine and surrounding areas, depending on the suspected conditions.

The assessment process is crucial for understanding the extent and impact of scoliosis and for guiding subsequent treatment options.


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