Scoliosis is curvature of the spine in the shape of the letter "S" or "C." It affects 2-3 percent of the US population. Many cases don't need surgery or even therapy. Having a doctor monitor the condition is enough for the majority of patients, and most people live perfectly healthy, active lives into adulthood despite having spine curvature. Women are much more likely than men to develop more severe scoliosis as they age. For any patient who is plagued with pain and other symptoms into adulthood, there are treatments that can help get them back to a healthy life.
Reducing pain is the main goal in treating adult scoliosis. This can be done using a combination of oral or injected medication, if necessary, and strengthening exercises. Physical therapy can be very effective, and aquatic therapy is also an excellent option. Doing strengthening exercises in a pool greatly reduces the stress on the spine. This allows patients to achieve better strength results with little to no pain.
Manipulation of the joints can also help keep mobility at high levels. It's recommended it be done only by a board certified orthopedic doctor specializing in the spine, because the neck area must be manipulated correctly in order to avoid injury. Bracing may be prescribed, but only in very rare cases to restrict movement and reduce stress on the spine.
For patients who do not respond to nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be recommended. Recovery from scoliosis surgery can take several months to a year. For that reason, only patients whose symptoms are keeping them from performing their daily activities are considered for surgery. A patient's overall health, their age in some cases, and their bone quality are also factors in deciding whether surgery is a good option.