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Old 05-01-2012, 04:48 PM
jackie jackie is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1
Default Scoliosis in adulthood

Hi Dr S,

I have a couple of questions concerning scoliosis in adulthood.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 10 years old. I had a brace (under my arm pits to my pelvis) for around a year when I was around 15. My left leg at the time I had the brace was 0.7cm shorter than my right.

I cannot remember what my 'S' curve degrees were back then but obviously serious enough that it warranted having the brace, but not so serious that I required surgery.

To be honest I am a bit sketchy now with the details as I am in my early thirties and have not seen a doctor since I stopped growing which I think would have been when I was 18-ish.

So... the reason for this post is that I recently had a scan of my lungs taken for another condition I have and it noted in the report that my spine was twisted and pressing on my heart / lungs.

This has made me concerned about the severity of the curve - and whether it might have gotten significantly worse than when I was in my in my late teens...

These days my right shoulder sticks out and I do have the delightful 'rib hump' on that side. My left leg is definitely shorter than my right still and my hips are tilted and my right one is larger than my left. (Note, I did have a hip brace as a toddler.)

I do not suffer back pain unless I am not exercising for a period of time. My back starts to hurt by the afternoon when sitting at my work desk...

I have done some online reading about exercise that may negatively impact scoliosis. I currently swim, do weights (including squats with a bar on my shoulders in pump classes), run, ride a bike, do pilates and yoga.

The warnings online were mostly about the effects that certain twists and backbends in yoga have - and weights - and they also talked about 'competitive swimming' having an impact - although this last one was directed more to adolescents I think...

.... I guess my questions are:
- Would the degree of the S curve be quite serious if it is touching your heart / left lungs?
- Can exercise be harmful to those with scoliosis?
- In adulthood should you continue to see a back specialist periodically to monitor any changes with the curve over time?

That pretty much sums it up… Hope you managed to read this far – and many thanks for taking the time J

Kind regards

Old 18-01-2012, 04:15 PM
Dr Scoliosis Dr Scoliosis is offline
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 187
Default Re: Scoliosis in adulthood

Thank you for your enquiry and I compliment you on the way you have constructed your questions.

First, presuming you had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, interference with heart and lung function is extremely rare and tends to be a clinical problem only when curves are more than 80 degrees. I deduce that you are not in that category from the information you have provided.

From what you have said, you probably have what is called a double major curve pattern where the upper and lower curves are of almost equal magnitude. This is described in more detail on our website - see About Scoliosis. It is known that double curve patterns do not respond as well to bracing as other curve patterns. Further, they tend to have a less favourable prognosis regarding progression.

You ask, can exercise be harmful to those with scoliosis? For curves which do not fall into the surgical category no particular restrictions are placed on the activities of patients. A lot depends upon the degree of the curve and its location in the spine. From what you have said, you have taken steps to keep fit and that is commendable.

I think it would be very purposeful for you to be seen by a scoliosis specialist and there is a directory of specialists on our website. You would need to be referred by your family doctor.

I trust this information is helpful.

Dr Scoliosis

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