Q. I had scoliosis as a teenager and was told that it would stop after I stopped growing. I'm 32 now, and it seems to be getting worse. Could this be something else happening, or is the scoliosis getting worse? Will I need surgery?
A. The changes that happen to your spine with mild scoliosis usually slow and even stop when you finish puberty. If the curves changed rapidly in your pre-teen and teenage years, there is a good chance the curves will get worse over time. This is why bracing and/or surgery are most effective in this age group. Adults who had mild to moderate scoliosis in their teenage years may find they have a slow and steady progression of the spinal curves as they get older. The changes are usually not significant and generally do not require surgery. However, it is possible that your scoliosis has progressed, since you have started to notice a change.
Whether you need surgery depends on how rapidly the curves are changing and whether you can manage your symptoms. Surgery may be helpful for adults when their spinal curves progress, their deformity advances, or their pain becomes unmanageable. Exercises are usually not helpful for preventing the progression of scoliosis, but they are good for muscle tone, cardiovascular health, and managing pain. Your doctor may want to take an X-ray of your spine now to compare changes in the years ahead.