Adult Degenerative Scoliosis, aka ADS, is a disorder in which the patient has degenerating vertebrae along their spine. ADS is unique and different from regular scoliosis in the sense that it can seem to develop in a short amount of time, often occurring in less than a year.
So, how do you deal with Adult Degenerative Scoliosis? Doctors have determined that chiropractic adjustments and exercises are some of the best ways to treat ADS. You may also require a back brace, depending on the severity of your case of ADS.
While Adult Degenerative Scoliosis can be a tricky disability to deal with, you'll find this article will lend a helping hand in the process. The key to treating scoliosis is consistent, high-quality care from a licensed medical professional.
Several factors can cause ADS. Older adults are much more susceptible to it than younger people, although it's not exclusive to any particular age group above 18 years of age.
ADS patients might also see osteoporosis occurring in their bones. In combination, these two disorders can cause pain, discomfort, and lifelong damage.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis always seems to set on rather quickly, but it's often a slow process. The vertebrae in question degenerates over time, eventually giving way and causing a slump or misalignment on one side of the spine.
When one or more vertebrae start to slide in a random direction, the spine tends to compensate for the difference. At first, the patient won't notice much of a change, since the spine's curve is correcting for the compensation. However, this sliding motion eventually slips and causes the patient to hunch on one side or another.
As mentioned previously, osteoporosis can go hand in hand with scoliosis. However, it can also be a cause of ADS.
When the vertebrae start to become porous and lose their strength, they can crack or slide much easier than they usually would if they were healthy. This cracking or sliding can also lead to a slump and the onset of ADS.
Another cause of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis comes when a patient with a mild to moderate case of scoliosis doesn't treat their symptoms.
If they try to handle it on their own, the pressure of the curved spine can push one or more vertebrae out of place. An S-shaped or C-shaped misalignment can occur in these cases.
Genetic traits are also a common factor that causes ADS. Look through your family tree to see if anyone else has scoliosis, ADS, AIS, or any other form of the condition.
Unfortunately, not everyone can completely avoid scoliosis if it runs in their family. There are a few other rare cases of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis caused by various other issues.
However, the causes mentioned above are the most common reasons that people end up developing the disorder.
Diagnosis typically includes talking it over with a doctor to pick out familiar symptoms to ADS, followed by a possible X-ray.
There are plenty of symptoms that may be a part of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis.
The main problem is that the patient in question might not even feel back pain. Sometimes foot, hip, and knee pain can be directly correlated to scoliosis.
This pain in non-back areas occurs because the nerves along the spine can be pinched, sending waves of pain to various parts of the body.
When a patient goes in to see the doctor, they tend to focus solely on the problem area. If someone has foot pain, the doctor usually looks at their foot. When they have hip pain, the focus is on the hip, and so on.
However, doctors who are familiar with or who specialize in scoliosis will know to view the spine's curvature. There are also tests (such as the Risser-Ferguson and Cobb Angle tests) that allow you to see if an appointment is necessary.
There are a significant number of symptoms that can be found in a person who has ADS, but these are the primary expectations:
When a patient goes from not even realizing that they have any spinal issues to suddenly being shorter or slumped on one side, ADS is a common diagnosis.
Since it can't truly show itself unless the patient goes under an X-ray for another reason, ADS can sometimes sneak up unexpectedly.
Hip, knee, leg, and foot pain on one side of the body is another frequent symptom of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis.
ADS causes the spine to slide in one direction, so the slump mentioned throughout this article can cause excruciating pain for the patient. Depending on which vertebra is affected, different parts of the body might experience pain.
Nagging neck pain might accompany ADS because the neck is where the spine connects to the base of the skull. This connection point can be put under pressure when scoliosis shifts the spine in one direction.
Headaches are also a symptom that goes with neck pain in ADS patients.
Limited movement is another frequent symptom that comes with scoliosis in adults. Not only does the pain stop people from performing daily tasks, but the actual curve on the spine can hinder movements in a non-painful manner.
This hindrance might come in the form of not being able to lift one's arm above their head, limited mobility when bending over, and overall reduced flexibility.
There are a few treatment plans for adults who suffer from ADS. While treatment can be an excruciatingly painful process, the result is almost always relief for nearly every patient.
ADS will not go away on its own, so you should try to deal with it before it becomes an even bigger issue later on down the road.
Here are the three most effective ways to deal with Adult Degenerative Scoliosis:
When a patient has severe Adult Degenerative Scoliosis or a spinal curvature over 40 degrees, they might not be able to perform these exercises and various movements fully at first.
The brace and chiropractic adjustments mentioned above will slowly increase the mobility of the patient, allowing for more effective exercises.
While these are the primary three treatments recommended by medical professionals in the field, there are undoubtedly other suggestions out there.
But before you start self-diagnosing and dealing with ADS at home, you should consult a medical professional to find out if you actually have Adult Degenerative Scoliosis.
There are two common treatment schedules that patients who experience Adult Degenerative Scoliosis use to improve their condition.
To figure out which schedule you should pick, see your local medical professional. Keep in mind that these schedules are typical, but are not guaranteed to use the same lengths or visit frequencies that we describe here.
Now that we've reviewed the schedules, it's time to discuss the review process.
When doctors finish a schedule of treatment for Adult Degenerative Scoliosis, they will try to determine if the patient is feeling or seeing any improvement in their symptoms. These improvements can range from physical pain to cosmetic misalignments and differences.
The reevaluation period is similar to the goals that they have in mind, but there are a few dissimilarities between the two. Both sets are necessary to figure out what steps should be taken next, including home care or self-treatment beyond monthly adjustments and other recommendations.
When someone finishes a full schedule, most professionals will evaluate the situation. This can let them know if recovery is occurring or if extreme measures need to be taken.
Below are some of the most common reevaluation factors used by doctors and chiropractors.
Determining how the patient is feeling is a great way to know immediately if the work is functioning as it should. Adjustments, braces, and exercises work wonders by relieving pain and reducing discomfort. Doctors also want to see if the patient feels more mobile, similar to how they did before being diagnosed with Adult Degenerative Scoliosis.
Viewing the curve of the spine and looking for a degree reduction is another major part of the reevaluation process. Doctors usually look for at least 10 degrees of improvement, although larger amounts are still common. In some cases, the spine can straighten by as much as 30 degrees after a cycle of the recommended schedule.
After a successful ADS rehabilitation period, patients should be able to walk normally and move without restrictions.
Feeling stable and not shaky or off-balance is essential to ADS recovery, and is, therefore, one of the main signs of improvement that doctors look for.
The reevaluation period is only part one of a two-part process for the post-schedule procedure.
Medical professionals almost always set goals to see if their patients meet or exceed them during and after the schedule.
In the next section, we'll cover the three primary goals that are set for every patient suffering from ADS.
The following ADS recovery goals are designed to get the patient back to normal life as quickly as possible.
Getting the patient out of pain is undoubtedly the most important part of the adjustment and treatment process.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis can often produce unbearable pain, which prevents the patient from performing daily activities that would otherwise be easy and pain-free.
Before any other step is taken, pain reduction is almost always at the forefront of the goals set by professionals.
Preventing the curvature angle and misalignment from increasing is the second most important goal in the process.
If you're going through treatment and the curve is getting more severe, changes must be made to the recovery process.
A simple test or an X-ray can be used to determine if progression has gotten worse or stopped.
After removing the pain and preventing the progression of the curvature, professionals look to reduce the degree of the curve.
If all three of the treatments mentioned above are used and performed correctly, patients can and will notice a reduction in the curve of their spine. As previously mentioned, 10 degrees or more is a fantastic start to the process.
If any of these goals aren't met, the doctor in question will assign another series of treatments, possibly with a more intense routine.
However, following your doctor's treatment regimen will almost always result in pain reduction, prevention of worsened symptoms, and a reduction in the curve from the completion of the initial schedule.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis can be painful, debilitating, and disheartening. However, it's a very treatable condition. If you have ADS, proper treatment and a willingness to improve can work wonders at reducing pain and reversing the curvature of your spine.
The best ways to treat and reverse ADS symptoms include chiropractic adjustments, ADS-specific exercises, and 3D back braces. If you suspect you have ADS, talk to a medical professional before starting any type of treatment regimen.
“The author’s views are his or her own and may not reflect the views of CLEAR Scoliosis Institute.”