Adults, children and teenagers with scoliosis are all affected by what is known as the ‘Vicious Cycle‘. Once their structural scoliosis has begun, a vicious cycle of asymmetrical gravitational loading takes over. As the Vicious Cycle takes hold it causes: more changes in the deformed vertebrae; further progression of the curve, which looses its flexibility; and further changes in trunk deformity.
Excluding scoliosis that develops early in life or from a separate syndrome there are 2 types of adult scoliosis: adult idiopathic scoliosis and adult degenerative scoliosis, also known as de novo (new) scoliosis. Whilst the former is a progression and worsening of the disorder from either childhood or adolescence, of which the cause is unknown, the latter relates to aging.
Degeneration of discs and spinal (facet) joints, which can also lead to spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal, causing nerve impingement), are common factors in both types of adult scoliosis. Whilst adult idiopathic scoliosis can appear in both thoracic and lumbar spine, adult degenerative scoliosis usually occurs in the lumbar spine. When viewed from the side, the lumbar spine often appears to have flattened, loosing its normal curve (lordosis).
According to the Scoliosis Research Society, the 2 most common symptoms of adult idiopathic scoliosis are low back pain and stiffness. Depending on the extent of degeneration in the spine, other symptoms include numbness, cramping and shooting pain in the legs due to nerve impingement; and fatigue to due the strain on back and leg muscles. Back pain; numbness; and shooting pain down the leg are symptoms associated with adult degenerative scoliosis.
The Schroth Method helps adults with scoliosis understand the adverse nature of the Vicious Cycle and how to correct their muscle and postural imbalances with scoliosis specific exercises and posture. The exercises can help to restore symmetrical posture, improve balance and mobility, reduce the symptoms of pain, and have a positive affect on preventing curve progression.
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