Thursday, April 05, 2012
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Adult scoliosis — the development of asymmetrical curvature and twisting of the spine — isn't necessarily a problem until symptoms develop, according to the April issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Older adults with considerable spine curves, especially those who are fit and healthy, can be quite active with no symptoms at all.
In older adults, scoliosis is usually caused by wear and tear of the spine that is common with aging. Contributing factors can be osteoporosis, arthritis, degeneration of the disks that act as cushions between the vertebrae, and prior back surgery that removed spine tissues.
Over time, scoliosis can cause low back pain, pain and numbness that radiates down one leg, leg weakness, and a stooped posture. Pain or problems are often linked to excess weight and poor fitness levels, especially loss of strength in the core muscles of the trunk.
Treatment includes regular exercise. Yoga or Pilates can strengthen the core muscles. Walking can combat bone degeneration. Water exercise is a good option if walking is painful. Other aspects of treatment include managing bone health, maintaining a healthy weight, stopping smoking, and using pain medications.
Surgery is an option when scoliosis is causing leg weakness, significant disability, or pain that doesn't respond to pain therapies. Surgery often involves removing bone or disk material that is pressuring nerves. Surgeons also may implant metal braces or fuse spine segments together to stabilize the spine.
New fusion surgery techniques have improved surgery's effectiveness and shortened recovery times. The rate of success is consistently greater than 90 percent. Hospital stays have been reduced from five to seven days to two to three days.
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