While children and teens are often the ones that are diagnosed with scoliosis, this condition can occur well into adulthood. If you've just been diagnosed with scoliosis, you may be wondering what caused it and how you should treat it.
What Causes Adult Scoliosis?
Unfortunately, scoliosis is an idiopathic condition, meaning that it often arises spontaneously with no root cause. However, doctors do have some ideas of why this condition can occur later in life.
As you age, your bone mass tends to decrease, which can set you up for conditions like osteoporosis; so, a degeneration of bone mass could throw your whole spine out of balance. If you have tension placed on certain muscles and nerves, you may hold your body in a certain way to compensate and relieve pain. Eventually, this unnatural positioning could develop into scoliosis.
What Treatments are Available?
If you and your doctor figure out a root cause of scoliosis, then you'll want to tackle that issue first. However, since many adults don't know what causes their scoliosis, they'll want to talk with an orthopedic surgeon about your next steps. He or she may recommend physical therapy and chiropractic work. The goal is to manage your scoliosis so that it doesn't progress to the point where you would need surgery.
Chiropractic Care is For Management
Scoliosis isn't curable—it's a condition that typically requires ongoing care. Thankfully, one study found that after patients were able to undergo a chiropractic treatment, they were able to reduce their pain and improve their Cobb angle—the measurement of spinal curvature. The patients in the study were also to see some sustained benefits after their treatment had ended. Chiropractic treatment works best for those with mild to moderate scoliosis, so if your doctor recommends it, it's definitely something to look into.
What Will Your Chiropractor Do to Help?
Your chiropractor may do a sensory integration assessment at each session. This assessment helps the chiropractor see how well you can balance and shows where there are any miscommunications between the brain and body. Ideally, this assessment should improve as your scoliosis is treated.
Just as a chiropractor treats many other problems, he or she will use manual manipulations or specialized tables/machines, to set the spine into a better position. Unlike other conditions, joint mobility isn't the problem with scoliosis, it's the location of the joints that's the issue. The facet joints are synovial joints—or thick membranes—that lubricate and articulate vertebrae. When an adult has scoliosis, these facet joints can become dislocated and degenerate.
By adjusting vertebrae and facet joints, your chiropractor will take pressure off of nerves and relieve muscle tension, thus helping your spine adjust back to its proper location.
Talk with your doctor and chiropractor for more information on dealing with adult scoliosis and how a chiropractic adjustment may help.