Each person must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine which factors are most likely contributing to the development and progression of their scoliosis. During the physical exam, your doctor may have your child stand and then bend forward from the waist, with arms hanging loosely, to see if one side of the rib cage is more prominent than the other.Your doctor may also perform a neurological exam to check for: 1. It's likely that degenerative scoliosis is more common than previously thought. One interesting new theory suggests that scoliosis is caused by a sensorimotor re-integration disorder (improper communication between the brain and the muscles responsible for posture, balance, and coordination). Though the causes of scoliosis are mostly unknown, we do know several things that contribute to the formation of degenerative scoliosis. The doctor will initially take a detailed medical history and may ask questions about recent growth. This form of adult de novo scoliosis is often the result of a serious spinal fracture or break. As discussed, true cases of adult de novo scoliosis are far less common than cases of idiopathic adult scoliosis. In adults it may show itself as a shape change with asymmetry of the trunk. Traumatic scoliosis can occur as a result of an accident or surgery. The second common type of scoliosis seen in adults is degenerative scoliosis. This sheath wraps around the spinal cord in cross-striated fibers, much like the fibers of a Chinese finger trap. Sign up to receive facts and information you won’t find anywhere else. Many de novo cases are caused by the weakening of the facet joints and discs of the lower spine; this can lead to a shift that causes the spine to slip out of alignment and scoliosis to develop. In adults, age related changes in the discs and joints of the spine and a reduction in bone density may cause scoliosis. CLEAR Scoliosis Centers are privately owned and operated chiropractic clinics. One of the most challenging aspects of treating scoliosis is early detection. The idea that problems with communication between the brain and the body lies behind the cause of scoliosis has been steadily gaining interest over the last decade. ‘De novo’ means new, meaning the patient didn’t have scoliosis in the past. Less commonly, scoliosis may be caused by: the bones in the spine not forming properly in the womb – this is called congenital scoliosis and is present from birth an underlying nerve or muscle condition, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy – this is called neuromuscular scoliosis This type of scoliosis is described based on the age when scoliosis develops, as are other some other types of scoliosis. It is certainly possible for a slight case of scoliosis to develop this way (mild scoliosis develops in many professional athletes that play sports which focus very heavily on one-sided activities, such as tennis and golf), but in most cases of scoliosis, the muscle imbalances that exist are a result, rather than a cause, of the scoliosis. Rather, it appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that influences the development of scoliosis. Adult degenerative scoliosis, which commonly arises after the age of 40 or 50, is caused by degenerative changes in spinal discs. It used to be thought that scoliosis was solely a concern for those who hadn’t yet reached skeletal maturity; this turned out not to be the case. Never ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site. Painkilling tablets may help relieve the pain that can be associated with scoliosis. It’s once they’ve reached skeletal maturity and the condition has progressed in severity that the condition’s symptoms become more noticeable. The scoliotic curves may be … Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves laterally. Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by a disorder like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or a spinal cord injury. All of these types of scoliosis, however, comprise less than 20% of the diagnosed cases. As stated earlier, it is unlikely that imbalances in the strength or activity of the muscles are a direct cause of most cases of scoliosis. The cause of adult scoliosis varies depending on the type of scoliosis. Degenerative scoliosis, also known as adult onset scoliosis, describes a side-to-side curvature of the spine caused by degeneration of the facet joints and intervertebral discs which are the moving parts of the spine. It can take many forms and varies greatly from one patient to the next. Surgery is not your only option when it comes to improving the curvature of your spine - here at Scoliosis SOS, we provide non-surgical treatment courses that have shown to be very effective indeed. All Rights Reserved. Our protocols are designed to rehabilitate and restore the good, healthy curves of the spine. In degenerative adult scoliosis asymmetric degeneration of the discs or joints in a patient’s back can lead to unbalanced loading of the spine. Taking aspirin only blocks the pain signals, much like removing the Check Engine light from your dashboard “fixes” the problem with your car. Back pain, however, is a common symptom for people who develop scoliosis as an adult. What causes this in turn is not known for certain, but it suggests that rehabilitation strategies aimed at improving balance, coordination, and proprioception might help prevent scoliosis from getting worse. Around the spinal cord is a tough, protective sheath, called the dura mater. The cause of scoliosis in adults can vary and depends on the type of scoliosis. Common symptoms of ADS include muscle fatigue, back pain, radiating pain into the legs and feet, and feelings of stiffness or numbness in the back and legs. As a result of the degenerative changes to the spine that can accompany aging, there are a number of conditions that can develop and contribute to the development of adult degenerative scoliosis. Adult scoliosis is most often caused by: 1. Other times, it could be due to the natural aging process, or degenerative. Adult Scoliosis Menu. Causes of Scoliosis in Adults. Causes of Adult Scoliosis There are many different types of scoliosis, but the two most common forms of adult scoliosis are worsening of a scoliosis known from adolescence or degenerative scoliosis. With spinal stenosis, the spine’s vertebrae, along with surrounding tissue, can extend into the spinal canal and compress the nerves as they’re exiting the spine. Muscle weakness 2. The vast majority of scoliosis cases diagnosed (over 80%) are termed idiopathic. It’s also possible for scoliosis to develop in adults due to disease, surgery, or trauma, although this is less common. Environmental aspects that influence scoliosis appear to be ectomorphic body types (tall and slender), loss of the normal thoracic kyphosis (flatback syndrome), and abnormal loading of the bones (Heuter-Volkmann’s Law). Below is a brief summary of clinical observations and theories put forward by the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute as to how scoliosis might arise in some individuals, and how our treatment aims to address those factors. In order to make long-term changes to posture, the brain and body must be influenced in a subconscious, reactive manner. Scoliosis or curvature of the spine is often thought of as a childhood problem. The chlorine in indoor swimming pools as well as the additives in meat have been found to increase the rate at which scoliosis develops. Figures 1-4: Progression of adult scoliosis from age 14 (top left) to age 46 … This pressure on the nerves can interfere with the health of the body, similar to how blocking off a blood vessel can be harmful to the tissues that were being supplied by that vessel. CLEAR doctors are trained to analyze the spine in all three dimensions – not just looking at the curves in the spine when viewed from the front, but also the curves when viewed from the side, as well as looking at the rotation from the top-down. Scoliosis is a sideways curve in the spine commonly seen in children and adolescents 1). Idiopathic means, “without known cause.” It doesn’t mean there is no cause - simply that it is not readily apparent. This is commonly caused by degenerative changes to the spine that can accompany aging. Adult degenerative scoliosis (also called adult onset scoliosis) is caused by the degeneration of the facet joints that help the spine bend smoothly, and the intervertebral … When adults develop scoliosis, it’s typically between the ages of 60 and 70, and in a form called degenerative scoliosis. In most cases, it is probably a combination of factors, and in each individual case, some factors may be more influential than others. There are several dangerous and harmful myths about adult scoliosis that unfortunately result in preventable pain and disability for thousands of scoliosis sufferers. These myths cause unnecessary pain, disability, and further progression of your curves. In most cases, scoliosis does not develop due to only one cause, but a combination of causes with varying degrees of influence. Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis. All of these types of scoliosis, however, comprise less than 20% of the diagnosed cases. Although scoliosis is usually considered a disorder affecting adolescents, it is also found in adults. When the baby is being pulled from the womb or birth canal, its head and neck are very vulnerable to injury. Adult scoliosis is often a result of worn-out joints and spinal discs. CLEAR Scoliosis Institute is a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit. Numbness 3. In severe cases, posture can also be affected. When an adult patient develops scoliosis with no prior history, this is referred to as adult de novo scoliosis, and there are a number of causes for this: degenerative changes to the spine that can lead to osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures, and stenosis. Adults can also experience worsening over time of previously undiagnosed or untreated scoliosis. When those adolescents reach skeletal maturity, the condition’s symptoms, mainly pain, become more noticeable and lead to an official diagnosis. Our physicians at The Advanced Spine Center have spent years addressing the causes of adult-onset scoliosis… While scoliosis can affect all ages, it’s most commonly diagnosed in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18. Some parts of the spine are known to narrow and weaken with age, which can explain some cases of degenerative scoliosis. In adults, scoliosis can sometimes be caused by gradual damage to the parts of the spine. Fractures of this nature commonly happen in the lower portion of the thoracic spine (middle back), and the thoracic spine is also where many forms of scoliosis commonly develops. Scoliosis affects about 2% of females and 0.5% of males. Yet for all the time we have studied scoliosis, its true causes remain elusive. Restoring ideal sagittal balance to the spine reduces the distance that the nerves must travel through the spinal canal, and hence the tension that the nerves are under. Scoliosisassociates.com - Spinal Stenosis, Americanassociationofneurologicalsurgeons.org - Vertebral Compression Fractures, Usnationallibraryofmedicine - Degenerative Scoliosis: A Review. Other less common causes of scoliosis are neuromuscular discord such as Arnold Chiari malformation, a congenital misshaped vertebrae, neurofibromatosis, connective tissue disorders such as Marfan’s or Eheler-Danlos, trauma-induced and post-surgical scoliosis. This is because, for the largest group of patients with scoliosis (adolescents), pain is rarely part of their experience. Back pain is one of the main problems caused by scoliosis in adults, so treatment is mainly aimed at pain relief.. Osteoporosis is a common condition linked to the development of adult scoliosis and is caused by a loss of bone mass, basically making the bones thinner. While there is no evidence that scoliosis is directly linked to any particular deficiency of vitamins and minerals, we believe that it is possible for an individual person to be affected by deficiencies or poor diet, that can in turn have effects upon their musculoskeletal system. This is known as degenerative scoliosis. Active exercises are helpful in rehabilitating muscle imbalances, but reactive exercises help to rehabilitate imbalances in the cerebellum and the posture control centers of the brain. Scoliosis is a very complex condition, and it is very rare for a complex condition to arise from one obvious cause. Idiopathic Scoliosis in adults Mostly, scoliosis begins to occur during teenage when the body is undergoing changes due to puberty. Before your doctor can suggest a treatment plan, if adult scoliosis is suspected, he/she will need to take a history. Also, the postural changes that scoliosis can cause can also be subtle and difficult for the average person to spot. It is also possible that genetic factors may predispose some individuals to be at a higher risk for developing scoliosis than others; however, even genetic factors can potentially be influenced through the science of epigenetics. Scolioisis most frequently occurs in children and teenagers. normal spine has several front-to-back curves between the neck and the pelvis In summary, CLEAR recognizes that scoliosis could arise from a combination of factors, including but not limited to spinal cord injury, upper cervical trauma, spinal cord tension, ligament injury, vestibular/sensorimotor dysfunction, connective tissue disorders, exposure to various toxins, and alterations in spinal biomechanics. Adult scoliosis may be a case of pediatric scoliosis that was undiscovered until adulthood. The 4 Most Dangerous Myths about Scoliosis in Adults. Adult-onset scoliosis can be a distressing experience—both in the psychological impact of your body’s changing appearance and in the physiological pain and inflammation that the condition can cause. This type of scoliosis begins in the adult patient due to degeneration of the discs, arthritis of the facet joints and collapse and wedging of the disc spaces. In other words, when you have a headache, the cause of the headache is not a deficiency of aspirin. Neuromuscular scoliosis, for example, occurs when a disease such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy causes the spine to develop a scoliosis. If scoliosis develops in adulthood with no prior history of the condition, it’s generally as a secondary complication of other medical issues and conditions: osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures, spinal stenosis, trauma, or neuromuscular disease. However, experts say, much more commonly adults with scoliosis have degenerative scoliosis, which develops as a result of age-related degeneration. Understanding Scoliosis Management Clinical observations suggest that many patients with scoliosis experienced a traumatic birth, such as a Caesarean section or a vaginal birth involving the use of forceps or vacuum extractors. Believe it or not, scoliosis in adult women over the age of 60 is fairly common and often related to changes in bone health and hormones related to menopause. We’ve learned that idiopathic scoliosis that first appears during adolescence can continue progressing into adulthood, and as age increases, so too does the likelihood of curvature progression. Treatmen… The most common form of adult scoliosis is degenerative (spine curves as you age). Spinal deformity is an abnormal alignment or curve of the bony vertebral column. This website is for informational and general purposes only. Scoliosis is defined as a lateral curve to the spine that is greater than 10 degrees with vertebral rotation 2). Not only can adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) differ greatly in severity level from patient to patient, it has no known cause, and can also be very difficult to diagnose. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. It is possible for certain genes to predispose an individual to develop scoliosis, but there is no way to tell just by looking at the genes if a person will develop scoliosis or not. CLEAR Scoliosis Institute, a nonprofit organization, does not have any authority over the clinic, make any clinical recommendations, or dictate patient care. Osteoporosis can also lead to vertebral compression fractures, and these are also connected to the development of adult degenerative scoliosis. Some types of scoliosis have a directly-identifiable cause. Studies show that bone spurs and degenerative disc disease probably start the process that leads to scoliosis. Pain results from stressed joints and pinched nerves, not the abnormal curve. Scoliosis is not caused by muscle tension. What causes scoliosis pain? The vast majority of scoliosis cases diagnosed (over 80%) are termed idiopathic. Rather, a special mechanical adjusting instrument is used that allows for more precise corrections, without further injuring the ligaments. Doctors at CLEAR Scoliosis Centers are personally responsible for all clinical decision making. There are several different types of scoliosis. Arthritis, disc and nerve compression in the spine, and difficulty breathing are also common. The occurrence of vertebral compression fractures increases with age and is more common in women due to the natural bone-mass loss and hormonal changes that accompany menopause. Degenerative scoliosis happens in late adulthood due to degeneration of the spinal discs. While scoliosis can sometimes be hereditary, or the result of a past trauma, the primary cause of adult deformity is aging, or natural wear-and-tear, as well as degenerative arthritis that occurs within the joints of … As a person ages, the spine’s vertebrae, ligaments, and discs can face degenerative changes, weakening the spine and causing it to curve abnormally. CLEAR uses an advanced system of reactive therapies, including spinal weighting and balance training exercises, to improve balance and coordination. For this reason, CLEAR doctors are taught to provide nutritional and dietary counseling to all of their scoliosis patients. But more and more, older adults are experiencing this condition, too. Conditions that weaken the vertebrae of the spine can lead to the development of an abnormal spinal curvature as the spine’s ability to … There are also various stretches and therapies that CLEAR prescribes to help improve the flexibility of the nerves themselves. Once growth is no longer a factor, an abnormal curvature of the spine causes compression of the spine, its tissues, nerves, and surrounding muscles. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. A healthy adult spine viewed from the back appears straight. Idiopathic (coming from an unknown cause) scoliosis is usually … Degenerative scoliosis occurs most frequently in the lower back (lumbar spine) and more commonly affects adults age 65 and older. Typically, the pain you experience with adult onset scoliosis is the result of pressure on your spinal disks, pressure on facet joints, and muscle pain. While this is a rare form of adult de novo scoliosis, neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, polio, and muscular dystrophy can also lead to the development of scoliosis. Progression of the disease from childhood such as when scoliosis is not treated early or goes unnoticed during childhood. VCFs present with severe pain and discomfort and can lead to the development of adult scoliosis. However, adults may also be diagnosed with scoliosis, either when a curve that existed in their youth progresses, or as a de novo (newly diagnosed condition) that can result from degenerative changes in the spine or osteoporosis. When the spinal cord lengthens, due to the orientation of the fibers of the dura mater, it creates a “pincer”-effect upon the nerves. Spinal surgery that leaves the spine unbalanced can also lead to the development of traumatic scoliosis. What Causes Scoliosis in Adults? A huge part of CLEAR treatment involves screening for and identifying any possible areas of ligament injury. Written by Stewart G. Eidelson, MD Adult scoliosis occurs when the spine curves abnormally to the left or right. In some individuals, spinal cord tension plays a very minor role; in others, it could be the primary driving factor behind the scoliosis. The nerves and ligaments in the neck have a great deal to do with maintaining posture and balance; it is possible that injuries to this area could interfere with the feedback between the brain and the body, leading to signals being sent and received inappropriately between the two. While scoliosis can sometimes be hereditary, or the result of a past trauma, the primary cause of adult deformity is aging, or natural wear-and-tear, as well as degenerative arthritis that occurs within the joints of … What Is Scoliosis? By teaching the brain new ways of activating the muscles in a more balanced fashion, the permanence of the achieved correction is enhanced, leading to much improved long-term outcomes. Idiopathic adult scoliosis is by far the most common form as this involves cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis that were undiagnosed and untreated during adolescence. Prevention Outlook / Prognosis the cause is unknown ( known as idiopathic scoliosis begins in and. 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