Scoliosis is a problem with
the curve in your
spine. Many people have some curve in their spine. But a few
people have spines that make a
large curve from side to side in the shape of the letter "S" or the letter
"C." If this curve is severe, it can cause pain and make breathing
In adults, scoliosis may result from changes in the spine
due to aging (degenerative changes). It may also be caused by a disease or condition, including:
Adults who have scoliosis may or may not have back pain. In
most cases where back pain is present, it is hard to know if scoliosis is
the cause. But if scoliosis in an adult gets worse and becomes severe, it
can cause back pain and difficulty breathing.
The doctor will check
to see if your back or ribs are even. If the doctor finds that one side
is higher than the other, you may need an X-ray so the spinal curve can
Mild cases of scoliosis usually
do not need treatment.
Some people may use nonprescription medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen to treat back pain. While these medicines may relieve symptoms of back pain for a short time, they do not heal scoliosis or back injuries. And they don't stop the pain from coming back.
Along with medicine, other steps that help to maintain or
promote good health, such as regular exercise and proper back care, may help
relieve back pain for some adults.
Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you learn:
If the pain makes it hard to do your daily activities, your doctor may recommend surgery.
have scoliosis because of aging (degenerative scoliosis) are more likely than children to have significant
problems after surgery. Even though surgery usually reduces their pain, other
complications, such as
wound infections, may occur.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsChristine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral HealthE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Current as ofMarch 21, 2017
Current as of:
March 21, 2017
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017