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Treating Adult Scoliosis: Understanding Your Options

Scoliosis, characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine, is commonly associated with adolescence, but it can manifest at any age, including infancy or adulthood. Factors such as age-related spinal degeneration, like osteoporosis, can increase the likelihood of developing scoliosis later in life.

Assessment and Treatment Approach

Contrary to common misconceptions, treatment for adult scoliosis isn’t solely based on the degree of spinal curvature but also considers individual symptoms:

  • Severity of Curve: In adults, a curve exceeding 50 degrees is typically considered severe, but treatment isn’t solely determined by the degree of curvature.
  • Symptoms: Management decisions are guided by symptoms such as breathing difficulties, fatigue, back or leg pain, muscle weakness, or loss of height.

Identification of Symptoms and Conditions

Adults with scoliosis may experience various symptoms and complications, including:

  • Respiratory or Digestive Issues: Severe curves can impinge on lung or stomach function, leading to shortness of breath or premature satiety.
  • Other Spinal Conditions: Scoliosis may coincide with conditions like osteoporosis or spinal stenosis, complicating treatment options and necessitating a comprehensive approach.

Nonsurgical and Surgical Interventions

Management strategies for adult scoliosis range from conservative to surgical interventions:

  • Nonsurgical Options: Physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, bracing, medications, and steroid injections may alleviate symptoms and slow progression.
  • Surgical Solutions: Severe symptoms or rapidly progressing curves may warrant surgical intervention, such as spinal fusion or osteotomy, to stabilize the spine and alleviate pressure on spinal nerves.

Don’t lose hope if you’re an adult living with scoliosis. Effective treatment options are available to improve symptoms and enhance quality of life. Contact us at 646-501-7200 or book an appointment online at one of our NYU langone Center for personalized evaluation and treatment.