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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis in adults is an uncommon but very problematic condition. Though scoliosis usually manifests itself during childhood or adolescence, it sometimes doesn't make itself apparent until adulthood.

Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine that causes it to curve to a degree that it impairs motor function and can lead to health problems. The condition is, in most cases, idiopathic; meaning that its exact cause is unknown. Scoliosis can bend the spine into an "S" or "C" shape.

Common Symptoms

Scoliosis causes the spine to warp in the lateral plane, rather than being the mostly straight, slightly curved column that is normal. This is usually apparent when examining a person's back. This curvature can affect the functions of many of the organs located in the body's core, including heart, lungs, and stomach.

The condition often directly leads to severe and persistent back pain. This pain is usually worst in the lumbar area of the back. Indirectly, it can put a disproportionate amount of stress on one side of the body, causing additional aching pain there. Scoliosis makes it difficult to stand, sit, and move at a pace faster than walking.

Adult Scoliosis

Adult scoliosis can be a result of a childhood condition that was not noticed and diagnosed by a medical professional at an early age. Over time, what would normally be a mild case of scoliosis if treated becomes full-blown scoliosis at adulthood. Sometimes, a degeneration of the spine in later years leads to adult scoliosis. Diseases, poor diet, smoking, and general wear and tear on the spine all lead to degeneration.

This condition in adults can be harder to treat because the spine has stopped growing and is less malleable and flexible. This is why an emphasis is placed on identifying and treating the condition as quickly as possible, before it becomes a severe problem.

Treatment Options

Scoliosis treatment is dependent on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, physicians may decide to treat only the pain, since the back isn't curved enough to justify a more direct approach. Pain from mild scoliosis may be treated with a variety of nonsurgical options. Heat therapy, massage, and exercise can help reduce muscular pain. Over-the-counter or prescription medication may also be used, depending on the severity of the pain. In some circumstances, a brace may be recommended to prevent the condition from worsening.

If the scoliosis is actively impeding the quality of life or endangering the health of the victim, surgery may be recommended. There are several surgeries available that can reduce the pain of scoliosis, including laser spine surgery. A patient should talk to his or her physician about various surgical options before making a decision.


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