If you’re an adult with scoliosis, you may be experiencing something you didn’t as a child – pain.
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. It occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. Most cases of the condition are mild, but some children develop spinal deformities that get more severe as they grow. In severe cases, scoliosis can be disabling, especially when the spinal curve reduces the amount of space within the chest, which makes it hard for the lungs to function properly.
Often, the pain associated with scoliosis isn’t caused by the curve but by another issue, such as spinal degeneration. That’s why adults tend to have more symptoms than teenagers because the degeneration in their discs and joints causes spinal sac and nerve openings to narrow.
In fact, there are several types of scoliosis pain. These include:
- Joint inflammation – As they age, adults with scoliosis can develop arthritis in the spine. The joints become inflamed, the cartilage that cushions the disks may thin, and bone spurs can develop. If the disk degenerates or the curvature progresses to a point where the spinal vertebrae begin pressing on nerves, the pain can be excruciating.
The symptoms of joint inflammation include activity–related pain that gradually grows worse, intense pain in the morning as well as later in the day, and pain in the legs when standing or walking.
- Mechanical pain – This is a form of back pain stemming from abnormal stress on the muscles surrounding the spine. It is usually the result of poor posture. People with scoliosis often lean forward either because their spine no longer curves naturally or because they are trying to relieve pressure on affected nerves. This can cause lower back pain and stiffness, numbness, cramping, and shooting pain in the legs, or fatigue as a result of strain on the lower back and leg muscles.
- Nerve pain – When the degeneration of the spine and scoliosis deformity produce pressure on nerves, it can result in pain. Symptoms of this kind of pain in the lower extremities include weakness, numbness, and loss of coordination.
Dealing with the Pain of Scoliosis
There are numerous pain management treatments for adults with spinal curves.
- Physical therapy: Strengthening core muscles can improve your posture and prevent further degeneration. A physical therapist can help develop exercises and stretching routines to meet your special needs.
- Pool (water) therapy: Some exercises can be helpful when performed in a pool. That’s because the body’s natural buoyancy in water counteracts the effects of gravity, enabling you to condition your muscles while putting less stress on your joints.
- Pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or medications that treat inflammation from arthritis can help reduce pain.
- Epidural steroid or facet block injections: These deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area in your back via X-ray guidance and injection.
- Nonsurgical treatments: These range from weight loss to decrease the pressure across the facet joints to wearing a corset brace to restrict motion and relieve pain enough to engage in daily activity, and participate in physical conditioning. They also include manual adjustments of the spine by a qualified chiropractic professional or osteopathic physician, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and taking nutritional supplements – such as turmeric and ginger, for example – that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory qualities.
The pain management specialists at Balcones Pain Consultants in Austin, Texas not only offer therapy for pain relief and healing, but can also answer any questions you may have about scoliosis pain. Call (512) 834-4141 to discuss your condition and learn about our options for pain relief. We have locations in Austin, Cedar Park, and Market Falls, Texas.