Category Archives: Scoliosis in Adults
Adults with scoliosis often feel they have nowhere to turn.
Bracing, surgery, wait and see — the typical treatment options focus on adolescent scoliosis, despite the fact that a greater percentage of adults than children have the condition. As many as seven in 10 adults over the age of 60 have scoliosis, compared to just 3 to 5 percent of adolescents — and some doctors believe the number will increase over the next 20 years as people live longer.
According to data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), over 25 million American adults experience chronic pain – pain that occurs daily for at least three months. Some of the most common causes of chronic pain include arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, headache, post-surgical or post-trauma pain, and lower back pain.
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.”
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), scoliosis affects between 2% and 3% of the American population, or about six to nine million people. It is characterized by an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine and there are many different forms. The various types of scoliosis are classified by cause and age of onset; the speed and mechanism of progression also plays a role in determining the specific type of scoliosis.
Being diagnosed – or having a child who is diagnosed – with idiopathic scoliosis can be a disconcerting, even scary, experience. After the diagnosis, you’ll be faced with lots of questions, and you’ll be uncertain about the future. What steps should you take? What steps should you avoid?
Diana Chaloux was determined not to let her childhood scoliosis stop her from becoming a fitness model. But when she started competing nationally, her spinal curve put her at a serious disadvantage.
Body symmetry is a key category in bodybuilding and figure competitions and a “major element to being successful at the sport,” she says. To compensate for her postural deviation, she began incorporating core-strengthening exercises into her routine. Building up her core through adult scoliosis exercises helped balance out her posture while supporting the rest of her training program.
At 58 years old, Marie Cunningham felt like she was 90. Just standing upright was so exhausting she needed crutches to prop her up.
“I can only stand, sit or walk for a short time again due to the pain building up,” she said. “I cry every day out of pain and frustration at not being able to walk, and I am getting very depressed.”
As a teenager, she spent five years in back braces trying to reduce her scoliosis curve. But as soon as the brace came off, the curve started progressing again – growing 10 degrees over the next six years.
By age 25, her curve measured 47 degrees—just shy of the high-risk waterline for rapid progression. To prevent the need for surgery, doctors put her on a regimen of scoliosis exercises and measured her progress over the next several months.
For most people, the rich foods that deck the holiday table represent impending weight gain and possibly gastric discomfort. For people with scoliosis, they represent something more—a potential worsening of scoliosis curves and pain.
While most doctors believe poor diet doesn’t cause scoliosis, research indicates that it’s a contributing factor. No one knows exactly what triggers the scoliosis genes. However, numerous studies have linked scoliosis progression to nutritional deficiencies, and strong evidence points to an interaction between poor nutrition and genetics.
People rarely talk about emotional side of scoliosis. Most conversations focus on the medical aspects: how fast the curves progress and which treatments are effective. Yet for people with scoliosis, emotional effects are as real as the physical ones—sometimes more so.