Scoliosis in Adults

Research is showing that scoliosis is significantly more common in the adult population than in children – up to 60% of all adults have some form of scoliosis (Schwab et al, 2005).

If you were diagnosed with idiopathic adolescent scoliosis when you were a child, your spinal curve has likely remained into your adulthood. If you are experiencing any symptoms/signs such as back pain or postural asymmetries, these may intensify in adulthood.


What causes scoliosis in adults? 

Some cases of scoliosis are classified as denegerative or de novo scoliosis. This can be caused by a previously-stable adolescent-onset scoliosis that progressed late in adulthood, or by structural changes of the spine that occur with aging such as asymmetrical osteoporotic fractures, disc degeneration, or facet arthrosis (Ledonio et al 2013).

Adults with scoliosis may experience back pain, stiffness, or difficulty at work or while doing activities that they love.

The ScoliClinic’s physical therapists will review your X-Ray (if available), perform a detailed assessment, and discuss your goals to create a customized home exercise program that is best suited to your needs.


What types of treatment are available for adults with scoliosis?

Treatment guidelines for adults take a wider range of factors into consideration, to determine the most effective combination of curve-specific Physiotherapy, custom spinal bracing, and surgery:

  • How many curves are present?
  • What’s the size of the curves?
  • Is there discomfort, pain, or other symptoms?
  • Are the curves stable? Is there progression / structural changes despite skeletal maturity?

What’s the goal of physiotherapy treatment for adults with scoliosis?

Scoliosis-Specific Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy based in The Schroth Method can be helpful at any stage, depending on your goals.

Goals for scoliosis treatment in adults are determined by YOU. Common goals we hear are:

  1. Address back pain and discomfort by stabilizing your spine through curve-specific strengthening
  2. Improve posture and aesthetics
  3. Prevent further degeneration of the curve
  4. Increase your education on movements to avoid, and modifications to your daily activities
  5. Improve your respiratory efficiency

A custom brace may be helpful to support you for short periods as you perform certain daily activities. Your ScoliClinic Physiotherapist can discuss if bracing may be appropriate for you, and can connect you with a Certified Orthotist trained in 3-dimensional scoliosis bracing.


How can Scoliosis-Specific Physiotherapy help people who have Harrington Rods or spinal fusion surgery?

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What types of treatment are available for teenagers with scoliosis?

Before your appointment

If you have X-Ray images, be sure to let us know as this will help your Physiotherapist design your treatment plan.

If you or your child already have a brace, physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises (PSSE) are recommended to maintain postural muscle strength, and to retain as much correction as possible when brace wear ends.

A referral to a spine surgeon and/or bracing can be discussed at the initial assessment.

Please bring:

  • X-ray images either digitally or on disc if available
    (Depending on the facility, we may be able to request them directly. Some facilities require that you pick up your images, and may charge a fee. We can discuss options during the booking of your initial appointment)
  • Any relevant reports
  • Sports bra / tank top, shorts or leggings

Please note: Payments can be made by VISA, MasterCard, debit, cash, or cheque. We cannot accept AMEX at this time.