Scoliosis in Adults
Scoliosis in adults is a known disorder where the spine curves away from the center or becomes C-shaped or sideways or S-shaped. Unfortunately, an untrained eye may not be able to identify this type of curving. A shoulder that appears to be higher than the other is or a pelvis that appears to be tilted is some of the indications of scoliosis.
Causes of Scoliosis
There are several reasons why an individual develops such disorder. In some cases, scoliosis is already present at birth or is congenital and the condition started to develop even while the fetus is still inside the mother’s womb. While the fetus develops, the spinal bones do not form properly or it could be that the ribs are fused together, thus leading to the curving of the spine. Scoliosis can also be neuromuscular. This means it can be due to the weakness of the muscles or poor muscle control, muscular dystrophy, paralysis due to various diseases like cerebral palsy or it can also be due to polio and spina bifida.
In case scoliosis starts to develop in a straight spine without any identifiable cause, this is considered as idiopathic scoliosis. This is considered as the most common form of scoliosis that affects female more than male. This type of scoliosis usually occurs during the adolescence stage and worsens as the individual grows. Although the reason is undetermined, it seems that a few numbers of individuals are prone to the condition. Some of the measures that should be taken in order to deal with this condition include routine scoliosis screening which is often done during middle and junior high. This can be very helpful in detecting the condition early for early administration of proper treatment.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Although scoliosis in adults is hard to determine visually, it can be easily identified if the shoulders or hips are not of the same level. However, unleveled shoulders or hips as well as a tilted stomach can also be attributed to poor posture. An individual suffering from scoliosis may experience low back pain or backache. After several hours of standing or sitting, the afflicted individual may feel fatigue, particularly in the area of the spine and the pain may worsen in case there is an irritation. Severe scoliosis, on the other hand, is a form of scoliosis where the spine is curved for more than 100 degrees and this may cause breathing problems.
Diagnosis of Scoliosis
In order to determine if an individual is afflicted with scoliosis, thorough diagnosis should be done starting with a physical examination. This involves the forward bending test that will help the physician define the curve in the spine. However, physical examination may not be enough to determine the degree of the curve, thus requiring an X-ray of the front and side areas of the spine. A neurologic examination may also be performed to determine if there are any changes in sensation, strength and reflexes. Aside from that, scoliometer measurements, a device being used to measure a curvature in the spine, is usually taken. MRI may also be suggested if necessary.
Treatment for Scoliosis
The treatment methods for scoliosis in adults usually depend on several factors including the cause of the condition, the location and the size of the curve and if the afflicted individual is still growing. In case the curve of the spine is at 20 degrees or less, this does not need any treatment. However, in case the patient is still growing, the afflicted individual has to be checked at least once every six months. In case idiopathic scoliosis in adults is present, the degree of the curve is at 25 to 30, and the individual is still growing, a brace might be necessary to help slow down the progression of the spinal curvature.
These braces come in varying kinds like Wilmington brace, Boston brace, Charleston brace and Milwaukee brace. Each kind of brace is used differently and these come in slightly different appearances as well. The physician will decide the right type of brace once the diagnosis is done. The choice of the brace should also benefit the patient and should not cause any discomfort. These braces work by using pressure in order to straighten the spine. These braces can be adjusted as the individual grows. However, these cannot be used in case the scoliosis condition is congenital or neuromuscular.
Scoliosis in adults that is at 40 degrees or more usually require surgery. Surgical procedures are administered to prevent the condition from worsening, which may occur even if the bones have stopped growing. The surgical procedure for scoliosis in adults involves the use of metal rods that will hold the bones in its right place as they heal. Braces could still be used postoperatively in order to stabilize the spine. For adolescents who develop scoliosis, low self-esteem may develop due to the wearing of the brace. For this, the family might be required to give full emotional support to help the individual overcome the condition.