There are two main types of adult scoliosis:
1.) Pre-existing (usually adolescent idiopathic scoliosis) which in adulthood becomes known as Adolescent Scoliosis in Adult (ASA)
2.) Degenerative De-Novo Scoliosis (DDS). Development of a new scoliosis in adults, usually as a result of spinal degeneration.DDS usually develops in middle aged and older adults and is typically seen starting around 45 years of age onwards. Because DDS is a result of degenerative instability, it is almost always progressive. However the main complaint usually associated with DDS is lower back pain. Often this pain is severe and little relief has been found from usual medical and complementary care.
A common misunderstanding still perpetuated by most health professionals is that scoliosis does not cause pain. This is not true. This notion has come about because the majority of children suffering from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis do not present with a primary complaint of pain and quite often even large deformities in children do not cause pain. However, in adults between the ages of 50 and 80 who suffer from chronic lower back pain, research shows that up 40% will have an adult scoliosis.
This misconception has led to a diagnostic and treatment approach that largely ignores the role of scoliosis in chronic lower pain in adults and, as a result, less than satisfactory outcomes for many of these patients.
The pain seen in adult scoliosis is not related to the size of the curve. Several good studies show there is little to no relationship between the size of the curve and pain. i.e a 20 degree and a 55 degree curve have the same chance of causing pain in an adult. For more information on treatment, see the Scoliosis Treatment section.
A common but abnormal condition whereby the patient’s middle back can be deformed by unknown reasons, poor posture, compression fractures, osteoporosis, etc. This causes the “hump” often seen in patient’s as they age. This condition can not only cause pain and embarrassment but affects the organs, such as the heart and lungs.