According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 2-3% of the total population or 6-9 million people in the US are living with scoliosis. Individuals with scoliosis have a curve in their spine that may range in severity from very mild to severe. This curve is measure in degrees, and can range from a minor curve of a few degrees to up to a severe curve of more than fifty degrees. It often is visible from childhood or adolescence and may not have a known cause, or is caused by another neurological or muscular disease. The prevalence of back pain in adults with scoliosis and without scoliosis is about the same. However, back pain is sometimes more severe in adults with scoliosis. Pain may be caused by curvature in the spine that results in facet arthropathy, spinal stenosis, and/or nerve compression.

Diagnosing Scoliosis

Your physician may be able to see scoliosis during a physical examination. They may then order X-rays in order to visualize the scoliosis better. 

Pain Management for Scoliosis

Treatment for scoliosis will depend on the age of the individual and if their spine is still growing and changing. For adults, management is more likely to be related to managing pain.

  • Bracing

This approach is for children and works to correct or stop the curvature of the spine from progressing using a hard brace that is worn daily.

  • Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can work to correct the curvature in young individuals. Strengthening exercises and stretches can also alleviate pain in older individuals.

  • OTC pain relief medications

There are medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen that can be bought over the counter for pain relief. 

  • Counseling

Counseling is proven to help manage chronic pain. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one type of counseling that will help you find ways to cope with pain

  • Injections and Interventional Pain Procedures

Interventional Pain Procedures are a type of pain management that uses pain-blocking techniques that will allow you to perform daily activities more efficiently with less pain, without the drawbacks of medication or surgery. These may include trigger point injections, radiofrequency ablations, or epidural injections.

For adults with a severe spine curve that is causing nerve changes that are resulting in bowel/bladder changes, surgery may be necessary. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider or physician to find out more about your options.