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Adult Scoliosis

The causes and treatment of scoliosis in adult patients is often very different than that of scoliosis in younger patients who have not finished growing yet. Adults face a uniquely different set of challenges when it comes to living with scoliosis, especially in deciding when and how medical treatment can help with the management of this spinal disorder.

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. It is most often diagnosed in childhood or during the early teenage years, and most cases of scoliosis fit into one of several well-recognized categories that help to explain why the scoliosis occurred and how it can be treated. Scoliosis that occurs or is diagnosed in adulthood is a different matter entirely, since the causes of scoliosis and the goals of treatment are very different in patients who have already reached skeletal maturity.

The most common form of scoliosis is called "adolescent idiopathic scoliosis." This type of scoliosis develops around the time of the growth spurt, is more common in teenage girls than in boys, and is usually diagnosed during adolescence. However, everyone who is diagnosed with scoliosis as a child will eventually grow up to be an adult, which means that they will face the additional challenge of living with scoliosis (or the consequences of surgical correction) as adults. Most adults with scoliosis fit into one of the following three categories:

  • Adult scoliosis patients who were surgically treated as adolescents
  • Adults who did not receive treatment when they were younger
  • Adults with a type of scoliosis called degenerative scoliosis, which can also be related to the development of osteoporosis of the spine

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  • Published: July 11, 2002
  • Updated: July 22, 2008