Scoliosis is something with which many people have to contend. Having this condition isn’t fun, but there are ways to treat it to some degree. Medical science has advanced to where you don’t have to be in constant pain if you get this diagnosis.

We’ll take a few moments to break down what scoliosis is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What Exactly is Scoliosis?

If you look at the human spine, you’ll see that it has curves. They are there naturally. They allow a person to walk straight and stand up tall while they do it.

There are four curves in total, two that doctors call lordotic and two kyphotic ones. They work together to create an S-like shape.

If you have scoliosis, there’s an abnormality having to do with those curves. They will appear misaligned in one way or another. This can lead to pain, either minor or more significant in some cases.

Adult Scoliosis

There are several scoliosis types, and we’ll go over some of them now. Adult scoliosis is the spine curving abnormally when a person has stopped growing. Approximately seven million individuals in the US alone have it, so it’s not uncommon at all.

The spine curves in an abnormal fashion to the left or right. There might also be bone rotation or twisting. You might experience pain as a symptom, or you can stay asymptomatic in milder cases.

If it gets worse, that’s when you’ll have trouble walking and standing erect, and you will likely experience pain as well. In the worst cases, it can adversely affect the lungs or heart.

Most people who have it never get an operation to try to correct it. Instead, they investigate and undertake various non-operative treatments. These can maximize function and decrease pain.

You might see a chiropractor regularly for adjustments. You may use over-the-counter or prescription pain meds, and you might undertake a physical therapy program.

Flatback Syndrome

There is also something that doctors call flatback syndrome. Your spine loses its natural low back curve. It’s flatter than it should be.

When this happens, you’ll find yourself leaning forward, even if you’re not necessarily aware of it. You might start to have trouble standing straight. You may have both back and leg pain as well.

The worst thing about the condition is that the pain usually gets worse as the day goes by. The pain’s severity will depend on how bad the situation is. With some people, it keeps getting worse the older they get.

The treatment is similar to what you might expect with adult scoliosis. You’re probably looking at physical therapy, chiropractor trips, pain medication, etc. Some people with this diagnosis even look into Ayurvedic medicine like acupuncture.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form. It generally affects children who are ten years old, at a minimum.

In this context, doctors use the term adolescent to categorize this condition because the individual’s skeleton will continue growing for some time to come. Because of this, it’s possible that some of the affected individuals can get back braces and various support structures that might help correct the posture issues and pain during the adolescent years.

Depending on how well the treatment works, such a person might not have serious back issues when they finish growing. If the treatment did not go as well as they and the doctors hoped, they might have pain and other problems as an adult. 

If that happens, they may have to undergo continued treatment, such as with the other scoliosis types we described.

What Causes Scoliosis?

As for what causes scoliosis, in some cases, doctors blame cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. In most instances, though, they don’t know what causes it. It does seem to be the luck of the draw, as is the case with many other physical abnormalities.

About 3% of all adults have a scoliosis type, and many of them live close to normal lives. They may have pain to a lesser or greater degree, but many people have back pain, even those who don’t have a particular diagnosis.

If a doctor does diagnose you with it, you might not be too happy about that, but you can work with them to figure out a treatment plan. There are many more options available today than there used to be. You can probably find a combination of medications and treatments that will allow you to live with the condition.