When people think of scoliosis they think of children and teens with crooked backs. In reality, many adults suffer from scoliosis. The popular medical approach to scoliosis treatment is to “wait and see”—to monitor the curve to see if it’s at risk for progression. By these standards the curves that are treated are those that are deemed severe enough to require treatment and the others are left alone. So what happens to these children with scoliosis curves that are untreated? They grow up to be adults with scoliosis curves.
There are several dangerous and harmful myths about adult scoliosis that unfortunately result in preventable pain and disability for thousands of scoliosis sufferers. When scoliosis patients believe these myths, it prevents them from seeking a solution for their scoliosis before pain and disability start to develop. Here are some of the most prevalent myths about scoliosis in adults that cause patients to suffer unnecessarily.
Myth #1: Mild scoliosis curves rarely progress after skeletal maturity.
Many scoliosis patients have heard again and again that their condition is not likely to deteriorate as they get older, especially if their curve is mild. But more recent and advanced studies have shown this just isn’t true. There are different kinds of scoliosis and some of them are likely to result in greater, less predictable curves over the course of your life. No matter what kind of scoliosis you have, your curve is most likely to continue to progress later in life.
Even if your scoliosis began during adolescence and you’ve seen little increase of your curve over time, you will see shortly that many adult scoliosis sufferers have seen drastic increases in their curve in adulthood.
Myth #2: Curves always progress linearly and predictably.
If it’s been a while since you were first diagnosed with scoliosis, you may be under the impression that your curve will progress at the same rate that it always has. This is not always true. While the type of scoliosis you have is a factor, many patients experience more drastic and unpredictable progression of their curves later in life.
Myth #3: If you have no pain from scoliosis now, you never will.
Though it is rare for scoliosis to present with pain in adolescence, pain is a common symptom of adult scoliosis. In fact, one study indicated that 92% of adult scoliosis sufferers reported pain from their scoliosis.
The patients in my office receiving adult scoliosis treatment all say the same thing: they were told they had scoliosis as children and teens and received no further treatment or even recommendations. Other patients received scoliosis braces as teens only to have their curves revert or continue to progress as adults. Then around middle age, sometimes sooner, they begin to experience back pain, hip pain, or other symptoms only to discover that scoliosis is the underlying culprit. There has been a recent movement to treat scoliosis in children as soon as possible, but unfortunately this movement has escaped generations of individuals who weren’t aware they had scoliosis or were never treated because it wasn’t considered “at risk” scoliosis.
Myth #4: There is nothing I can do, short of a major spinal surgery involving rods and fusion of the spinal bones.
One of the saddest and most destructive myths of all is perpetuated by medical specialists themselves. If you have scoliosis, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard this before:
“There is nothing you can do to change the progression of your curve. You can only ‘watch and wait’.”
Here’s the truth:
- Even mild curves of less than 30 degrees can have a higher chance of getting worse during adulthood than they did during adolescence, and some scoliosis sufferers are at even higher risk than others.
- Curves do not always progress predictably, and older adult scoliosis sufferers are likely to experience unpredictable, rapid progression of their curves.
- Even if you’ve never experienced pain from your scoliosis, there is a high chance of pain developing because of your scoliosis later in life. This is true even if you have a mild curve now.
So can scoliosis be treated in adults?
Yes. And it’s not too late. Early intervention is always preferable, but we have seen patient after patient reduce their curve, experience relief from their pain and disability using these exercises. While we may not be able to totally straighten your spine, significant postural and cosmetic changes are still very likely…. Dr Strauss will explain the treatment plan in detail to you after you have had your initial examinations. This will include what outcomes you can expect. We have treated patients with very large curves over 100 degrees as well as smaller curves less than 20 degrees.
We understand the pain and helplessness you feel. But there is something you can do about your condition. Don’t watch your curves progress for a single day longer than you already have. Give us a call today to find out how we can help.