Category Archives: Scoliosis in Adults

For decades, bracing and spinal fusion have been only treatment option for scoliosis; however, as a growing body of research sheds new light on this complex condition, patients are increasingly looking for and choosing less invasive options.

Massage therapy, in particular, has gained attention for its ability to reduce the chronic back pain that is sometimes associated with scoliosis. A skilled massage therapist “can use a combination of massage strokes, sustained pressure, positioning, and stretches to help balance the muscles of the back and body” and temporarily alleviate scoliosis symptoms, says massage therapist Jeanne Troncao.

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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.

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In today’s world of insurance-driven health care, face time with the actual doctor is becoming more and more limited, and time to ask questions ⁠— let alone get an answer ⁠— is practically non-existent. It is no wonder the idiopathic scoliosis condition is wrought with confusion and misinformation. While the list of misconceptions regarding idiopathic scoliosis is likely endless, below are six the ScoliSMART doctors feel are important enough to be called out.

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Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by a severe decline in bone mineral density.

Osteoporosis affects nearly 1 in 4 adult women over age 65, and 1 in 20 men over age 65 (source). If left untreated, people with osteoporosis can suffer life-threatening spine or hip fractures. For example, the average life expectancy after a senior citizen suffers a hip fracture is 12 months, whether they have surgery to repair/replace the hip or not. Spine and hip fractures can be very painful and debilitating.

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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.”

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Choosing to have a child is an exciting decision. But for women with scoliosis, pregnancy and childbirth are often fraught with anxiety. Many wonder if someone with scoliosis can even have a baby safely.

The reality is that risks are a natural part of pregnancy, whether you have an abnormal spine or not. But just how does the scoliosis affect the entire process, from conception to delivery? Below are answers to some of the most common questions women ask about pregnancy and scoliosis.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

1) Find a Team You Can Trust

Though a GP or family doctor is important, for a specific medical condition like scoliosis, you’re going to want to see a specialist. To ensure that you can properly manage your or your child’s scoliosis, you want doctors who have spent their careers devoted to spinal health, who are up on the most recent research, and who are committed to helping you develop a plan that is specific to you and your condition. No two curves are alike, and your treatment plan should attest to that. The right doctor will help you realize that plan – so take your time to make sure you find the right doctor.

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