Adult (Degenerative) Scoliosis

NJSpine DegenerativeScoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis, or adult onset scoliosis, is a result of wear and tear on the discs and joints of the spine.  It is the most common type of scoliosis in adults, and generally happens in the lumbar region.

Symptoms may vary greatly depending on severity of curvature.  Some patients may report no symptoms, have mild complaints, or become severely disabled.  When present, symptoms tend to come on gradually and be worse in the morning, lessen throughout the day, and worsen again at night.  Common symptoms are generally:

  • Back pain that worsens with standing and lessens lying down
  • Electric shock-like pain in one or both legs
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both legs

Your doctor may observe your spine, shoulders, and hips in a variety of positions such as standing, bending, or leaning.
Often, your doctor will request imaging to aid in diagnosis and treatment.  X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans may be ordered.

With degenerative scoliosis, treatment depends on each patient and situation.  Nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy, exercise to stretch and strengthen, and pain management may be all that is needed.

If the scoliosis has progressed to spinal stenosis, surgery may be required.  Your surgeon will likely recommend a laminectomy to increase room for the nerve roots, or a spinal fusion to ensure the spinal column is stable