Spinal Conditions

Adult Scoliosis

Adult Scoliosis

Adult Scoliosis: the spine curving abnormally in one or more places. Various types of scoliosis can occur in adults.

What Is Adult Scoliosis?

While scoliosis typically manifests during childhood, it can also arise in adults. “Adult” refers to individuals who have reached skeletal maturity (usually over the age of 18 or post-puberty). Adult scoliosis differs from its childhood counterpart in terms of causation and treatment objectives in individuals whose skeletal growth is complete.

Scoliosis, a musculoskeletal disorder, alters the spine’s shape, disrupting its normal alignment. The spine, composed of vertebrae, normally presents a straight line when viewed from behind, with natural front-to-back curves. However, scoliosis introduces a lateral curvature, resulting in a spine that appears like the letters “C” or “S” from behind. Adult scoliosis, though relatively common among musculoskeletal conditions, presents distinct challenges.

Types of Adult Scoliosis

Abnormal spinal curvature in adults can stem from various causes and occur at any age. Adult scoliosis may result from:

  • Progression of childhood scoliosis
  • Degenerative changes and wear and tear on spinal structures
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Previous spine surgery
  • Spinal injuries (such as fractures)
  • Tumors in or around the spine
  • Spine infections

Adult scoliosis can further be classified into several types:

Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis

“I idiopathic” denotes a condition of unknown origin, indicating that the cause of the scoliosis remains unclear.

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

This type results from the aging process and wear and tear on spinal structures.

Post-surgical Deformity/Scoliosis

Occurs following previous scoliosis surgery or spinal fusion, typically in patients who underwent extensive spine fusions.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Arises from diseases affecting nerve and muscle function, such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or polio.

Symptoms of Adult Scoliosis

Unlike adolescents with scoliosis who seldom experience pain, adult patients often present with various symptoms, primarily due to degenerative changes in the spine. Adults may notice a gradual decline in function and daily activity capabilities.

Potential symptoms and signs of adult scoliosis include:

  • Backache or low-back pain
  • Leg pain
  • Early muscle fatigue after standing or sitting
  • Lateral curvature of the spine
  • Dorsal hump formation
  • Uneven hips and/or shoulders

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.