Also referred to as adult onset scoliosis, this condition is typified by a lateral curvature of the spine, arising in adulthood. Its cause can be traced to degeneration in the intervertebral discs, as well as in the facet joints.
Fundamentally different from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, this is a spinal condition associated with aging, causing spinal dysfunction and pain. It’s estimated that 60% of the US population over 60 years of age suffers from at least some degree of ADS.
Pain from ADS can range from a dull sensation to shooting pains in the legs (sciatica), which make walking without assistance difficult, if not impossible.
The moving parts of your spine allow normal function, from standing up to sitting down, walking and other normal activities. But when the facet joints (which act as hinges in the spine) deteriorate, along with the discs between vertebrae (which act as shock absorbers), the entire spinal structure can be impacted.
With ADS, the degeneration of these two spinal components results in an asymmetry, as one side of the spinal column is more heavily impacted than the other. This causes the curvature described above. Usually manifesting in the lumbar (lower back) vertebrae, this degeneration results in a lateral curvature which takes on a “c” shape.
Curves like these which reach an acuity of more than 10 degrees are generally considered to indicate scoliosis. But it’s not the curve itself which causes the pain associated with ADS. It’s the inflammation in the facet joints and the impingement on nerves caused by the degenerative effect of the condition.
ADS may not be immediately noticeable to most people, but there are several symptoms to be taken note of. One of these is a dull pain originating in the mid to lower back. Another very telling symptom is a sharp pain which begins in the buttocks and shoots down one leg and is accompanied by tingling or numbness. Experiencing pain in the legs while walking which goes away after a period of rest, is another symptom of ADS.
The good news for people living with ADS is that it’s normally treatable via conservative, non-invasive means. Unlike adolescent scoliosis, the curvature involved is unlikely to progress, so the goal is not curve correction. The goal is to relieve pain and restore the patient to a better quality of life.
Therapies like physical therapy, water therapy and medical massage have all been found to be strong supports toward the goal of pain relief and renewed wellbeing.
At Spine Consult NJ, we strive to offer our patients a comprehensive resource to address all conditions of the spine. Our therapeutic responses range from conservative interventions to surgery. While our practice relies heavily on traditional treatment models, alternative therapies may also find their place in our therapeutic plans. Contact us for more information.