Does Scoliosis Get Worse With Age?: Understanding the Progression for Denver Sufferers

A woman grasps her back from scoliosis pain as an outline of her spine glows red to emphasize how her scoliosis gets worse as she ages.

Scoliosis is a condition that is commonly associated with childhood. While some forms of scoliosis do manifest in adolescence, you may be surprised to discover that some will not develop until later in life. Moreover, people who were diagnosed with scoliosis in their youth are likely still battling the condition well into their adulthood. However, does scoliosis get worse with age, or does it progressively get better? 

In this article, we will discuss scoliosis, its effect on aging, and how the best chiropractors can combat it with proper treatment. 

Causes and Symptoms of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition that causes an abnormal curvature or rotation of the spine, resulting in a lateral curve that exceeds 10 degrees and alters the spine’s typical shape into a C- or S-shape. Although it can develop in any part of the spine, the upper spine and lower back are the most commonly affected areas.

Contrary to popular belief, scoliosis is not just a condition that affects juveniles. While it does often develop in adolescence, it can appear at any age. In fact, more than 30% of all cases of scoliosis occur in adulthood. Moreover, scoliosis may affect as much as 60% to 70% of the population by the age of 80. This is because there are different types of scoliosis that vary based on the age of onset and how they progress. 

Comparison of Scoliosis Types
Type of Scoliosis CauseAge of OnsetCurve Progression
IdiopathicUnknownAdolescence Can progress rapidly during growth spurts
DegenerativeArthritis or spinal disc degenerationAdulthood Generally slow progression
Neuromuscular Nerve or muscle disorders such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophyInfancy or childhood Rapidly progressive
CongenitalSpinal abnormalities present at birthInfancy or childhood Depends on the severity of the malformation

Scoliosis causes a variety of symptoms, including: 

  • Back pain in one or more of the three regions of the spine (neck, upper back, lower back)
  • Difficulty sitting or standing for extended periods
  • Aches and pain in the vertebrae or sacroiliac (SI) joints
  • Numbness or tingling in the back, legs, or feet
  • Weakness in the back, hips, or legs
  • Uneven appearance of the ribcage
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • One shoulder raised higher than the other
  • Pelvic misalignment 
  • Leg asymmetry 
If you’re concerned that you may have scoliosis, free online screenings like the one from ScoliCare can be a great first step toward diagnosis and treatment. 

Does Scoliosis Get Worse With Age?

Yes, scoliosis can get worse as you age. When left untreated, scoliosis can further deteriorate the spine’s natural curvature. 

Age can expedite the progression of scoliosis due to factors such as:

  • Degenerative forces: As the body ages, the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints in the spine and surrounding areas naturally weaken, changing the shape and structure of the spine. For people with scoliosis, the effects of aging are often significantly more severe because scoliosis alters the body’s natural weight distribution. 
  • Inactivity: When people get older, they tend to be less active. Inactivity can lead to further weakening of the muscles and decreased flexibility, which contributes to the progression of scoliosis. 
  • Loss of bone density: The body has a natural bone remodeling process to maintain strength and density that becomes less efficient as we age, making our bones more fragile. For the spine, this means that the effects of scoliosis are more drastic.

Degenerative scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis that develops as we age. It can develop due to untreated or improperly treated idiopathic scoliosis from earlier in life, or it can develop on its own due to natural aging forces and/or poor posture. 

The good news is that degenerative scoliosis tends to develop less expeditiously than some other forms, meaning it often responds well to treatment. The key to successful treatment is catching degenerative scoliosis as early as possible. Unfortunately, Western medicine does not always prioritize preventative approaches that look at structural issues with the spine before a condition like scoliosis has already developed and progressed.

That’s why if you have scoliosis or are experiencing symptoms, seeking care from a qualified chiropractor could be the best first line of defense in not only treating scoliosis but also preventing its progression as you age.

Chiropractic Treatments for Scoliosis

Chiropractic treatment for scoliosis incorporates a variety of techniques and therapies depending on the cause, type, and severity of scoliosis. Some of the most common treatments are listed in the table below.

Chiropractic Treatments for Scoliosis
Chiropractic AdjustmentsThrough the use of the hands or small tools, chiropractors apply gentle manipulation to the spine to improve mobility and range of motion and reduce pain and inflammation
BracingCustom-fitted braces have long been used to support the spine and prevent the scoliotic curve from advancing. However, these braces tend to simply hold the improper curvature in place. More sophisticated braces such as ScoliBrace® are “overcorrective” and push the scoliotic curve back to center, stabilizing the posture and resetting curvature.
Postural ExercisesPostural exercises improve balance and assist in maintaining the natural curve of the spine while also strengthening the muscles that surround it. 
Neuromuscular ReeducationThis treatment restores the body’s normal movement patterns by retraining the nerve connections between the brain and soft tissue.
Spinal TractionSpinal traction gently stretches and straightens the spine to reduce the scoliotic curve and restore the spine’s natural curvature. 

Without treatment, scoliosis will only get worse with age. However, when receiving the correct combination of treatments, you’ll feel immediate relief from many of the symptoms caused by scoliosis and may even see a slowing or complete halt of the progression of scoliosis. 

Moreover, continued chiropractic care for scoliosis provides spinal health monitoring to assure that the proper methods are always being used. 

PostureWorks Can Prevent Scoliosis From Progressing 

At PostureWorks, we understand that there is no standardized solution for treating scoliosis. We believe that the most effective treatments are preventative ones tailored to address the unique scoliotic curve and its underlying causes.

To gain a thorough understanding of your spinal health, we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) as the basis for our scoliosis treatment approach. CBP enables us to conduct a comprehensive spinal health analysis that can identify the root cause of your scoliosis. Using this information, we develop a treatment plan that may include a combination of postural exercises, neuromuscular reeducation, spinal traction, bracing, and chiropractic adjustments.

Our goal is to not only provide swift relief from scoliosis symptoms but also prevent further spinal deterioration. So, if you’re concerned about your scoliosis getting worse as you age, rest assured that our customized treatment plans can help you maintain a healthy spine for years to come.

Contact us today to learn more about how scoliosis gets worse as you age or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.

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