Adult scoliosis is often a continuation of adolescent scoliosis, but in some cases scoliosis (a 3D curvature of the spine) can first develop in adulthood. When that happens, if not caused by some sort of traumatic injury, it’s usually the result of disc degeneration, and/or diminished bone density and muscle strength.
In women, degenerative scoliosis is often associated with hormonal changes, menopause, and/or osteoporosis. When menopause approaches or occurs, many women report that fluctuating hormonal levels result in noticeable physical changes. Loss of height (caused by spinal degeneration), postural changes, and pain are all signs/symptoms that scoliosis may be present or progressing. Staying active can help mitigate the effects of scoliosis such as pain, muscle imbalances, spinal fatigue or collapse, and/or postural concerns.
Schroth Method for Adult Scoliosis
The good news is that no matter when scoliosis was diagnosed, Schroth can help. For those with an active lifestyle, adding scoliosis-specific exercise is invaluable because patients learn how to manage their scoliosis. Many young women in childbearing years also often opt for our program, as they are motivated to prevent potential scoliosis progression during pregnancy.
Prior to participation in our program, many of our patients had run up against dead ends or were at a loss when it came to finding solutions for adult scoliosis. Our scoliosis-specific protocols are for patients who prefer taking a proactive approach to improve and maintain quality of life as aging occurs. Pain management, stopping progression and improving posture are central to our adult scoliosis program. We aim to empower our patients and the skills we teach focus on helping individuals regain a sense of control over scoliosis.
Adult patients usually participate in either a 12-hour or 17-hour program (individual sessions may range from 1.5-3 hours at a time). Program recommendations vary according to individual circumstance. Recommendations are based on Dr. Marc’s assessment during an examination appointment (local patients) or via health records, x-rays, photos, a detailed scoliosis history and phone consultation (long-distance patients). If you have interest, prior to scheduling a phone consultation please send records to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We treat adults of all ages with scoliosis and those with thoracic or thoracolumbar/lumbar kyphosis. As adults typically have a more rigid spine than adolescents, adult patients should not expect to reduce Cobb angle (as some of our adolescent patients have). However, adult scoliosis patients are able to derive various other benefits from the Scoliosis 3DC Program. We have also have one documented case of adult scoliosis improvement.
Potential Benefits/Goals of the Schroth Method for Adults
- Reduce or eliminate pain, if present
- Stop scoliosis from progressing – stabilization
- Improve spinal flexibility and strength
- Empowerment over scoliosis
- Learn lifelong skills for scoliosis management
- Improve breathing and lung function, if impairment exists
- Improve body awareness and mechanics
- Postural improvement – Our scoliosis exercise protocols focus on helping adults improve their postural appearance and improve spinal balance.
The foundation of our program is curve-pattern specific spinal education. Adults are pleasantly surprised, and suddenly optimistic, when we begin to explain the nuances of their unique spine. Almost every patient has reported that no one has ever explained their scoliosis to them in the way we do. With this newly acquired understanding, we launch the program and introduce concepts designed to help you prevent progression, alleviate pain, and retain and improve mobility. Program components are all based on Schroth Best Practice® with added original Schroth exercises for more severe curves.
- ADLs (We show you the correct way to modify your habitual postures and self-correct to create a more balanced spine and trunk during activities of daily living.)
- Physiologic® (sagittal plane exercises exclusive to Schroth Best Practice®)
- Mobilizations (simple exercises to keep the spine as flexible as possible)
- 3D Made Easy exercises (3D Schroth exercises that are easy to integrate into your day)
- Power Schroth exercises (to unload the spine and improve the core musculature)
For clarity, every program includes a manual with detailed instructions for each exercise and a custom video that we film towards the end of instruction. This way, when you return home you have resources you can refer to if you have a question. Of course, you can always email us with any questions as well since we are here to support you even after you leave.
In case you’re wondering – Yes, we do treat post-surgical patients! The only stipulation is that you are at least one year post-op, with a recent x-ray indicating stable hardware. You will also need permission from your orthopedic surgeon. Post-surgical patients are typically recommended for a 12-hour program.
Patients with pain after scoliosis surgery are often the ones seeking post-operative treatment. Others have experienced spinal collapse above or below the fusion. This is indicated when a patient experiences a decrease in height, loss of disc height, or increased curve angle – leading to curve progression. Contraindications that exist for post-surgical patients include broken or unstable hardware (which is why we require a PA/lateral x-ray series just prior to treatment). We’re happy to report that we’ve had a few post-surgical patients who were on disability at the time they came to see us, who were then able to return to work and/or resume normal activities.
Scoliosis Brace for Adults (Optional)
Adults with scoliosis now have the option to be fit for the Schroth method compatible Gensingen Brace® for part-time wear. We’ve been using this innovative brace as an effective option to help adults with scoliosis pain and/or spinal collapse. Adult scoliosis patients who have elected for this option are happy having an added tool to manage their scoliosis!
Potential Benefits of the Chêneau-Gensingen Scoliosis Brace for Adults
- The brace is custom-fitted according to size and curve pattern (not an off-the-shelf product)
- Help manage pain from degeneration and scoliosis
- Help with spinal support and maintaining an upright position
- Can help slow/deter curve progression with regular wear
- Improve postural appearance
- Schroth corrective breathing is automatic while wearing the brace
- Ability to wear it as much or as little as you choose
Choosing to wear a brace as an adult is an entirely different experience than having to wear a scoliosis brace as an adolescent. Adults are at liberty to use the brace at their discretion and most wear it on a part-time basis. Several patients report that having the brace has helped reduce pain during everyday activities (while doing chores, sitting/standing for long periods, etc.). Many of our adult patients have opted to use the brace in conjunction with Schroth exercise for a dual-pronged approach to counteract progression. Read more about adult bracing from our Scoliosis 3DC Blog.
We’ve treated a variety of adults with all types of circumstances–from adults who were treated for scoliosis in their teenage years, patients disabled from pain, adults with very severe curves and a woman in her sixties who previously never knew she had scoliosis. If you’ve experienced it, it’s likely we’ve heard about it. If you are interested in learning more about our scoliosis treatments for adults please contact us.
The x-ray above is an adult patient with severe scoliosis who has participated in our Schroth method program and fit for a Gensingen Brace.