Scoliosis is commonly thought to be a condition that only affects children and teenagers. While the spinal condition does usually present pre-adulthood, it can develop at any age. Adults who experienced scoliosis during adolescence may also find that their symptoms worsen over time. Young people who have a mild case of scoliosis may not need treatment, while others with more severe presentations may require a brace or plaster cast. As for how to treat scoliosis in adults? That’s where chiropractors come in. In this guide, we explain how scoliosis can be managed in adults.
What is Scoliosis?
Table of Contents
Scoliosis is a spinal abnormality that causes the spine to become rotated and curved to the side. In other words, instead of having a straight spine, people with scoliosis have spines that curve into an unnatural “S” or “C” shape.
In children and adolescents, scoliosis tends to present as a cosmetic concern and most cases are not painful. However, the condition tends to become more painful if it progresses or the curve becomes more prominent.
While most adult cases of scoliosis are mild, the condition can result in neurologic dysfunction and pain. Pain can occur due to the curve or the compression of the spine on the local spinal nerves. The muscles surrounded by the spine can also become fatigued as they work to help you maintain postural balance without the support of the spine. Other symptoms of scoliosis in adults include:
- A bulge or deformity in the back
- Uneven posture
- Uneven alignment of the head, pelvis and hips
- A loss of height
- Shortness of breath or fatigue
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Premature feelings of fullness
Can Scoliosis Be Corrected in Adults?
Adult scoliosis can impact an individual’s quality of life by leading to pain, balance issues, and postural problems. Long-term adult scoliosis can also cause the pelvis and hips to become misaligned, which can result in degenerative conditions and arthritis down the line.
Fortunately, scoliosis in adults can be managed. While it cannot be cured, there are a number of effective treatments available to reduce symptoms and improve mobility.
Can a Chiropractor Treat Scoliosis?
If you’re wondering how to treat scoliosis in adults, the good news is that chiropractic adjustments and therapies can help. Chiropractic care can help to reduce pain and prevent further degradation of the spine. Chiropractic interventions are non-invasive, meaning they do not involve surgery.
Many adult patients who present with scoliosis were first diagnosed in adolescence and have dealt with prolonged discomfort — emotionally and physically — due to the condition. Chiropractic care can help to alleviate these discomforts and get you back to doing the things you love with confidence.
How to Treat Scoliosis in Adults with a chiropractor
Your chiropractor will first discuss your concerns with you, gather a case history, and ask you a few questions about your pain.
During your initial consultation, your chiropractor will complete a spinal assessment to determine the extent of your scoliosis and the degree of curvature to the spine.
Your chiropractor may then perform orthopaedic examinations, using their hands to feel the spine and determine whether any of the surrounding muscles are affected.
Weight balance and neurological tests may also be necessary to assess whether or not your motor, sensory, and cranial nerves are functioning properly. It’s common for the chiropractor to take an X-ray or MRI of your spine to get a better look at the condition of your spine and surrounding muscles.
After your initial consultation and testing, your chiropractor will outline a personalised treatment plan, which may include:
A spinal adjustment is one of the most common techniques used by chiropractors to treat adult scoliosis patients. Your chiropractor will push on certain areas of the spine to manipulate its shape. This also helps to increase the mobility of the spine, and ease tension in areas that may be restricted and bent out of shape.
Soft Tissue Massage
You may receive soft tissue massage to alleviate pressure from the surrounding muscles and increase your range of motion.
Exercises and Stretches
Your chiropractor will take you through tailored rehabilitation exercises and stretches that will help to correct your posture and alignment. You will likely be asked to repeat these stretches and exercises at home in between sessions to ensure your body is regularly reminded how to align itself correctly.
What Happens if Adult Scoliosis Goes Untreated?
If left untreated, scoliosis can lead to future health problems. When left to progress, scoliosis can lead to degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. Such degenerative changes put more pressure on the surrounding nerves which can lead to weakness, pain in the lower extremities, and numbness. In severe cases, it can lead to loss of coordination and mobility.
Adult Scoliosis Treatment at MyChiro
At MyChiro, we offer non-invasive scoliosis treatments. Our aim is to reduce your pain, get you moving comfortably again, and prevent further issues from developing down the line. We take a comprehensive, three-pronged approach to treatment; we begin with a thorough assessment, then tailor a personalised plan of action, and finally, take you through treatment.