After years of scoliosis treatment, 16-year-old Rachel Rabkin Peachman’s curves had stabilized and her spine had fully grown. At 45 degrees, she had narrowly escaped surgery. Her doctor told her she was done.
But she wasn’t.
“I’ve discovered in the years since that scoliosis is not something you endure and outgrow, like pimples and puberty. Now, at the ripe age of 38, I find myself with a 55-degree upper curve, a 33-degree lower curve, consistent pain — and no standard treatment to follow.”
She is not the only adult scoliosis patient left in pain. As many as 6 million adults live with scoliosis in the United States alone, whether idiopathic or developed during adulthood (and that is a conservative estimate). Nearly three in four experience pain as a result, while 23 percent describe their pain levels as horrible, excruciating, or distressing.
“A misshapen body is the least serious consequence of scoliosis,” says Jane Brody, who was diagnosed with scoliosis after her son pointed out that one hip was higher than the other. “It can result in disabling pain in the buttocks, back or legs, and neuropathy, a disruption of feeling and function when a spinal nerve is compressed between vertebrae.”
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 68 percent of people older than 60 show signs of degenerative, adult onset scoliosis. (Bone mass and density loss is the usual culprit.) And that doesn’t even account for those whose childhood scoliosis continues to progress a 1-2 degrees per year.
That is a lot of people who potentially suffer from adult scoliosis pain.
Many feel let down by conventional treatments or fear they will need to have surgery. As the majority of doctors continue to adhere to outdated treatment methods, painkillers and surgery are often presented as the only options. But that isn’t the case. Better treatments, guided by emerging research, are helping adult scoliosis patients achieve significant pain reduction without resorting to drugs or surgery.
Types of Adult Scoliosis Pain
Scoliosis usually isn’t painful, particularly in childhood. Even when patients do experience pain, it is often not caused by the curve itself but by secondary issues, such as spinal degeneration. Adults with idiopathic scoliosis tend to have more symptoms than teens because the degeneration in their discs and joints causes spinal nerve openings to narrow; discoordination of spinal muscle firing patterns leaves some muscle groups doing much more work than others, resulting dull, achy, burning, cramping spasms.
There are several types of adult scoliosis pain, including:
Joint Inflammation Caused by Scoliosis
As patients with adult scoliosis age, they often develop “joint slipping” in the spine, known as spondylosis. It is especially common in those whose condition has gone untreated. “The joints become inflamed, the cartilage that cushions the disks may thin, and bone spurs may develop,” says the New York Times. “If the disk degenerates or the curvature progresses to the point that the spinal vertebrae begin pressing on the nerves, pain can be very severe.”
Symptoms of joint inflammation include:
- Activity-related pain that gradually gets worse
- Stiffness and pain first thing in the morning, as well as later in the day
- Localized pain to just the area of the joint
Mechanical Pain Caused by Scoliosis
This type of back pain stems from abnormal stress on the muscles surrounding the spine. Poor posture is often the culprit. Many patients with scoliosis lean forward a lot, either because their spine has lost its natural curve or in the attempt to relieve pressure on affected nerves.
Symptoms of mechanical pain include:
- Dull, achy, burning spasms
- Low back pain and stiffness
- Fatigue from strain on lower back and leg muscles
Nerve Pain Caused by Scoliosis
Adult scoliosis pain can also arise when nerves become compressed.
“A combination of the degeneration of the spine and scoliosis deformity may cause pressure on nerves and possibly even the entire spinal cord.”
This can lead to symptoms in the lower extremities, such as:
- Loss of coordination
How Is Adult Scoliosis Pain Treated?
Because each person is unique, a customized treatment plan is recommended to reduce curvature, improve functionality, and relieve scoliosis pain in adults. It is also important to address the condition’s underlying cause — bone mass and density loss — with nutrient supplements and possibly hormone replacement therapy.
Other non-surgical scoliosis treatment options include balancing and isometric exercises, Automatic Response Training (ART) exercises, ScoliSMART Activity Suit, and nutritional testing.
3 Strategies for Scoliosis Pain Management
Adults with spinal curves have far more options for scoliosis pain management than many realize.
In fact, the most effective treatment plans tackle the problem from multiple angles — one that combines a variety of approaches for maximum effect.
Our doctors recommend the following ScoliSMART treatments for adults with scoliosis pain:
Exercise is the key to any scoliosis pain management plan. Strengthening core muscles is essential for improving posture and preventing further degeneration. Stretching helps combat stiffness and maintain flexibility. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise program that is customized to fit your needs.
Herbal Pain Relief
Working out may sound impossible to an adult living with scoliosis pain, but taking the right dietary supplements can help ease the symptoms, making exercise less difficult. For example, four in 10 patients with scoliosis experience long-lasting pain relief when taking curcumin. Our ScoliPAIN Plus supplement provides 6-8 hours of pain relief with time-released curcumin.
Another option that works for some patients is CBD oil.
ScoliSMART Activity Suit
The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is a completely non-invasive treatment option for adult scoliosis that doesn’t just relieve symptoms – it addresses the underlying problem of spinal curvature.
Whether you are performing specific scoliosis exercises or simply going about your daily activities, wearing the ScoliSMART Activity Suit helps improve communication between the brain and muscles surrounding the spine, naturally correcting postural imbalances. Scientific research has found that eight in 10 adults who wear the suit for 4-6 hours a day enjoy significant pain relief — not to mention a more than 6-degree curve reduction and noticeable posture improvement.
The Time to Act Is Now
If you have spent years helplessly watching your curves — and pain levels — get worse, there is still hope. Surgery and painkillers are not your only options!