Are you an adult struggling with scoliosis, seeking effective treatment options to regain your postural health and reduce your back pain? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of scoliosis, its impact on adults, and the various treatment modalities available to alleviate pain, improve posture, and enhance overall quality of life.
Scoliosis is a medical condition characterised by an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. While it commonly develops during adolescence, it can also affect adults, either as a continuation of a childhood condition or as a result of degenerative changes in the spine over time. Adults living with scoliosis often face challenges such as chronic pain, limited mobility, and decreased self-esteem.
Fortunately, advancements in medical knowledge and treatment options have paved the way for effective interventions to address scoliosis in adults.
One of the primary goals of treatment is to minimise pain and discomfort, enhance spinal stability, and improve overall function. The treatment for scoliosis depends on several factors, including the severity of the curvature, the age of the patient, and the underlying cause of scoliosis. Let’s delve into some of the most promising treatment approaches available today.
Physical Therapy and Corrective Exercise:
A cornerstone of scoliosis treatment, physical therapy focuses on strengthening and mobilising, stretching the muscles surrounding the spine.
Targeted exercises help improve posture, decrease scoliosis curvatures, increase flexibility, and enhance core stability. Skilled physical therapists may incorporate specialised techniques like Schroth or SEAS (Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis) into your rehabilitation program to address your specific needs.
The Schroth method is a specialized physical therapy approach designed specifically for scoliosis. It involves a series of exercises and breathing techniques aimed at improving posture and spinal alignment.
Adults with scoliosis often experience chronic pain. Pain management techniques like medications, spinal injections, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic care can provide relief and improve daily functioning.
Bracing is often recommended for adolescents with moderate scoliosis to prevent the curvature from worsening during their growing years.
The most common type of brace used is the TLSO (thoracolumbosacral orthosis), which is a rigid brace worn around the torso.
In certain cases, bracing may be recommended to stabilise the spine and prevent further progression of the curvature. Custom-made orthotic braces are designed to fit your body contours and can be worn discreetly under clothing. While braces are typically more commonly used during adolescence, they can still be beneficial for selected adult patients.
Spinal injections are not typically used as a direct treatment for scoliosis itself. Instead, they may be utilized as a means of managing pain and inflammation associated with scoliosis or its related conditions.
These injections can help provide temporary relief and improve the individual’s quality of life. Here are a few types of spinal injections that may be used:
- Epidural steroid injections: This involves the injection of a corticosteroid medication into the epidural space around the spinal cord. It aims to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in the back or leg areas affected by scoliosis.
- Facet joint injections: Facet joints are small joints located at the back of the spine that help with stability and movement. Injections into these joints may involve a combination of a numbing agent (local anesthetic) and a corticosteroid medication to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation.
- Sacroiliac joint injections: The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum (lower part of the spine) to the pelvis. Injections into this joint can be used to relieve pain and inflammation associated with scoliosis affecting the lower back or hip region.
It’s important to note that while spinal injections can offer temporary pain relief, they do not address the underlying curvature of scoliosis. Therefore, they are typically used in conjunction with other treatments such as physical therapy, exercise, or medication to manage symptoms.
For severe cases of scoliosis or when other treatments have failed, surgery may be necessary.
Surgery is typically considered for adult scoliosis when the curvature is severe (usually greater than 45-50 degrees) and causing significant pain, neurological symptoms, or respiratory compromise.
The goal of surgery is to correct the spinal deformity, stabilize the spine, and alleviate pain or other associated symptoms.
Minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as thoracoscopic or laparoscopic approaches, can reduce surgical trauma, scarring, and recovery time compared to traditional open surgery. Surgical options include spinal fusion and the use of implants or rods to correct and stabilize the spine.
Spinal fusion is the most common surgical procedure performed to correct scoliosis. During this procedure, the surgeon fuses two or more vertebrae together using bone grafts, metal rods, screws, or hooks. This stabilizes the spine, reduces curvature, and alleviates associated symptoms.
Modern surgical techniques, such as minimally invasive procedures, aim to minimize tissue trauma and promote faster recovery.
Alongside professional interventions, certain lifestyle modifications can significantly contribute to managing adult scoliosis. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet can help alleviate strain on the spine and improve overall well-being.
Additionally, adopting good posture habits, using ergonomic equipment, and avoiding activities that exacerbate pain or strain on the back can provide long-term benefits.
Emotional Support and Rehabilitation
Living with scoliosis can take an emotional toll on adults, affecting self-image and overall mental well-being. Seeking support from counsellors, joining support groups, or connecting with others facing similar challenges can provide a sense of community and emotional resilience. Rehabilitation programs, including psychological counselling and body awareness therapies like yoga or Pilates, can also aid in building confidence, managing stress, and enhancing body-mind connection.
Remember, effective treatment for adult scoliosis requires an individualised approach. Consultation with a qualified healthcare professional is crucial to assess your specific condition and develop a tailored treatment plan.
With advancements in medical knowledge and a wide array of treatment options available, adults with scoliosis can embark on a journey towards improved posture, pain reduction, and enhanced quality of life. Take the first step today and reclaim your postural health!