Adults can have scoliosis. Sometimes they had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis or juvenile idiopathic scoliosis. This can be stable or progress as an adult, depending on many factors (to be discussed shortly). Adults can also have degeneration and a degenerative scoliosis may exist. I have seen many adults with scoliosis and for some of them, the X-Ray or EOS is the first time they have seen their spine with a curve. Sometimes they find this quite confronting. But there are some facts that are useful to know about scoliosis in adults, most of which can be reassuring!
5 facts to know about adult scoliosis
- Not all curves progress! In fact, if you have a curve under 30 degrees then your chances of progression are lower than if you have a curve over 30 degrees. Curves over 30 degrees are more likely to progress, while curves over 50 degrees are even more likely to progress at 0.5 to 1 degree per year.
- You can exercise! In most cases, there is no reason to stop doing what you love doing. Of course, you do need to listen to your body just like anyone without scoliosis would. Speak to your health care professional about this for specific advise.
- Having scoliosis doesn’t automatically mean you will have pain! Living in fear is not helpful either. Of course it is a good idea to look after your back and be educated. However I have seen many people with scoliosis and pain, and many people with scoliosis who do not have pain! There are many factors that can be contributing to pain. People without scoliosis have pain too!
- Surgery is usually not needed. Surgery is reserved for the most severe cases only.
- Physical therapy options are available! Did you know that there are physios around the world trained in exercises that are specific to the needs of scoliosis patients? This may include, but is not limited to, methods such as Schroth and the Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS). Often this needs to be adapted for adults
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