Whereas scoliosis is mostly thought of a childhood disorder or condition, it can and does occur in adults (those persons over 18 years of age whose bodies have completed their growth). And because the causes of scoliosis in adults are vastly different from those in children, it is very much distinctive, as are the methods and aims of treatment.

A musculoskeletal condition, scoliosis or a scoliotic spine (when viewed from behind) may appear as a letter “C” or “S” rather than a straight line. And idiopathic scoliosis—a common type found it adults—comes from unknown origins, meaning the specific causes are a mystery but may be the result of childhood scoliosis that has worsened over time or from natural degenerative changes in the spine.

There are different causes that lead to a diagnosis of adult scoliosis, which can occur at any age but typically present in people over the age of 40. The condition can be a result of childhood scoliosis that has gotten worse; too much stress and strain on the spine; injury; tumors or infection in or around the spine; or some sort of neuromuscular disease.

When dealing with adult scoliosis, it’s important to know that the condition can be viewed through different classifications. Idiopathic or from an unknown cause; degenerative or from stress and strain on the spine; neuromuscular, as from a disease such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy; or even as a result of a previous back surgery.

Adult patients suffering with scoliosis experience an array of symptoms, most involving pain, that are usually a result of changes that have weakened the spine and led to some degree of lost function. Symptoms may include but are not limited to lower back pain; leg pain; tired or aching muscles and fatigue accompanied by soreness; a hump on the back; and an unevenness between the hips and/or shoulders.