Adult degenerative scoliosis is a curvature of the spine in which the spinal column bends from side to side instead of straight up and down. The condition is a result of degeneration of the facet joints which are small joints between the backbones (vertebrae) that help your spine move. When the facet joints deteriorate, the surrounding bones or vertebrae shift and stack on top of one another, which then causes the spine to abnormally curve to the side. This condition affects adults mostly over the age of 65.
There can be confusion about idiopathic scoliosis and adult degenerative scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis occurs in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18. The most profound difference between these two types of scoliosis is that there is no known cause for idiopathic scoliosis, and there is a very distinct cause for adult degenerative scoliosis. Patients who suffer from idiopathic scoliosis rarely feel pain from the condition. Those suffering from adult degenerative scoliosis often feel pain caused by the deterioration of the facet joints. The abnormal curvature itself is not the cause for pain, the deterioration of the discs and facets resulting in arthritic changes of the spine causes most of the back pain.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis Symptoms
Some physicians define scoliosis as a spinal curvature of 10 degrees or more. This small amount of curvature is not usually visible to the untrained eye. More obvious symptoms can include:
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis Causes
It is important not to confuse adult scoliosis with adult degenerative scoliosis. Adult scoliosis refers to abnormal curvature of the spine in patients over the age of 18. Sometimes this can be a result of untreated and progressive childhood scoliosis or scoliosis that formed during adulthood. Adult degenerative scoliosis usually affects people over the age of 65 and is a direct result of the degeneration of the facet joints in the spine.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis Treatments
The most common treatments for adult degenerative scoliosis are nonsurgical approaches such as anti-inflammatory and pain medicines, therapy and exercise. Corrective surgery is rarely performed but can be quite complex an option depending on your symptoms.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Spine Services in New York treats adult degenerative scoliosis as well as a broad range of spine conditions that can occur at any stage of life.
The Rehabilitation Network of the North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to providing you and your family with result-oriented, comprehensive rehabilitation services. Our goal is to help you and your loved ones find relief from pain and get moving again after an accident, illness, injury or surgery. We’re your partner in a safe, healthy, more rapid recovery.