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Adult Scoliosis

In adult onset scoliosis, symptoms vary with age of onset and severity of the spine curvature. Inexplicably, women are seven times more likely to have symptoms of the progressive disease.

“At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we see adult patients who are in pain or are embarrassed by the curves. This is where our expertise and experience with complex scoliosis make the difference in improving these lives.” Richard Hostin, MD

With adults, the situation can be more problematic. Southwest Scoliosis Institute sees adult patients, particularly women, who fall into one of several categories:

Type I: Progressive scoliosis – Women have spinal curves but no pain.
“Often, I see young women with very large curves who have no pain. I tell them that statistically the probability of the disease progressing is 80 or 90 percent, and that untreated they may well have problems in later life. With these women, we discuss their treatment options on a case-by-case basis.” Ioannis Alexander Avramis, MD

Type II/ Adult Scoliosis – Scoliosis that begins in adulthood in response to degenerative disease of the spinal column. This type of scoliosis can progress at a much more rapid pace than in Type I Adult Scoliosis.

Scoliosis curves that progressed during pregnancy

“I also see young women who have a history of scoliosis who were told their curves would not progress in adulthood. And the story goes something like this: ‘My curve was stable. I had no back pain. My first pregnancy wasn’t terribly complicated, but after my second pregnancy something happened.’ Now pregnancy is a very complicated physiologic state. The hormone of pregnancy is progesterone, and what we believe is that women who have curves that were otherwise reasonably well compensated may progress under the influence of progesterone. That is, the ligaments become somewhat lax as they need to be for pregnancy and for the pelvis to develop appropriately for delivery. At the same time, the curve starts to progress, and so I’ll see these young women who’ve had several children, and they’ll say, ‘You know, my body is changing. Something’s happened.’ Some of those women are now experiencing pain.” Ioannis Alexander Avramis, MD

Increasing scoliosis curve that has become painful

“Finally, there are women who come in and say, ‘You know, I had a small curve, and it has continued to progress throughout adulthood. It didn’t seem to be related to pregnancy, but now that I’m [50, 52, 55], I really have become deformed. The trunk has become deformed. My dresses are different. I don’t have a waistline anymore. My ribs are actually resting on my hip bones, and there’s really been a dramatic change in what I look like. But I’m here not because I’m worried about my cosmetics. It’s because I hurt. Because I have pain. It’s limiting my ability to live effectively.’” Ioannis Alexander Avramis, MD

Scoliosis Screening

Scoliosis is usually diagnosed by a combination of physical examination and specialized X-rays.

During the physical examination, Dr. Hostin or Dr. Avramis looks for the degree of rotation in the curvature of the spine, as well as secondary changes in other parts of the body. These may include:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Rib hump or asymmetry
  • Low back hump or asymmetry
  • Change in the shape of the waist
  • Uneven pelvic bones or hips

Frequently, these changes are not visible in a person standing but become noticeable when the person bends forward.

X-rays are important to pinpoint the shape and location of the curvature as well as for measuring the degree of the curvature, so it can be classified.

Scoliosis Treatment

Dr. Hostin and Dr. Avramis specialize in complex surgeries for adults. Treatment decisions are based on a combination of factors: degree of curvature, curvature location, risk of progression, spinal imbalance, underlying disease progression and degree of pain the patient is experiencing.

In recent years, the medical profession has made great advances in the diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis. The surgeons and medical staff of Southwest Scoliosis Institute are on the leading edge, offering the most advanced treatment options available. To date, we have successfully treated more than 4,500 patients. You deserve to get the care you need from only the best orthopedic physicians.

At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we understand our patients are dealing with more than the physical challenges of scoliosis. They are coping with emotional challenges as well. One of the most powerful ways we’ve found to help patients considering scoliosis surgery is to hear about other people’s experiences.

“We measure our success by our patients’ expectations of success,” says Dr. Hostin. “We commonly receive letters and pictures from our patients telling us how we have been a significant part in their recoveries and how much the quality of their lives have improved.”

Adult Scoliosis Surgery

For scoliosis patients who experience an increase in curvature and are in pain, we may recommend surgery. Scoliosis surgeries are serious and complex with multistep procedures, and adults sometimes need more than one surgery — one performed from the front and one done from the back. Typically, this can be done in one operation but in some cases two are necessary.

In the event the patient needs surgery, our physicians sit down and explain the risks and benefits of the procedure, the possibilities and expected outcomes. At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we are with you every step of the way.

“I was skeptical about having another surgery, but I was recommended to Dr. Hostin and his team for the procedure I needed. When I asked him what was different about what he could do that others could not, he told me that he had an excellent team and vast experience doing this same procedure. It worked. If it had not been for this man, I would have given up. I am so grateful to Dr. Hostin and his entire team.”

“After a routine scoliosis surgery, patients are admitted to the intensive care unit where there is focused nursing care,” says Dr. Hostin. “It really is very comforting for both the patient and the family to know that there’s one nurse who is completely attentive to their needs.”

If you experience pain from scoliosis, there is help. Call the Southwest Scoliosis Institute at 972-985-2797.