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Adult scoliosis is defined as abnormal curvature of the spine in a patient over the age of eighteen. Sometimes this is the result of a childhood curvature that was left untreated and has since progressed. If scoliosis occurs in an adult with no history of a childhood curvature, it is classified as adult degenerative scoliosis. More often than not, adult scoliosis is caused by conditions such as osteoporosis or degenerative disease.

Individuals with adult scoliosis have distinct differences in both their symptoms and treatment options when compared to pediatric or adolescent patients.

Scoliosis Treatment NYC A 71 year old female was diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis. Treated with minimally-invasive scoliosis correction.

Adult scoliosis differs from adolescent scoliosis as the spinal curvature is commonly associated with back pain as the main presenting complaint. Curvature in the adult also tends to be severe and often progressive. The adult scoliosis deformity tends to be much less flexible, making treatment more complex. Advanced stages of degenerative disc disease may be associated with adult scoliosis and may be the primary cause of back pain for many patients. Pinched nerves from herniated discs and arthritis may also occur.


Lower back pain and postural changes are hallmark signs of adult scoliosis. Pain is usually caused by degeneration of the spine, not the abnormal curvature; however, the degenerative process can be exacerbated by the scoliosis deformity, or vice versa.

Abnormal curvature can cause:

  • Truncal imbalance, making the patient appear as though he/she is listing to one side
  • Rib prominence on either side
  • One leg shorter than the other (leg length discrepancy)
  • Postural changes
  • Discomfort while sitting or standing
  • Impaired walking and balance
  • Muscle atrophy/hypertrophy, nerve damage
  • Cardiopulmonary problems (in cases of severe deformity)
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Non-Operative Treatment

Treatment for the majority of individuals with adult scoliosis is non-operative. Such treatment may include exercise and conditioning, formal physical therapy and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen (Motrin). Nerve root blocks or epidural steroid injections may help to address leg pain occurring from pinched nerves in the lumbar spine. Bracing is seldom used for treatment of the adult patient but may be helpful for the elderly patient who is not an appropriate surgical candidate. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are treated with nutritional supplements such as calcium and vitamin D as well as with exercise.

Scoliosis Treatment NYC

Operative Treatment

Surgery is generally indicated for patients with curves that have exhibited progression or worsening of the curvature over time and for those curves that are associated with pain that is unresponsive to other treatment, or that is associated with neurological symptoms. Severe spinal deformities may also be indicated for surgical treatment. Surgery in the adult patient may be performed from utilizing a range of surgical approaches and techniques. Dr. Stieber may also employ new, minimally-invasive techniques to treat some types of adult scoliosis.

Scoliosis Treatment NYC

The period of recovery following adult scoliosis surgery can be variable depending on the character of the preoperative deformity, the complexity of surgery required and other patient factors. Patients may get back to full activities as quickly as three months after surgery, however others may require a substantially longer recovery process.

Patients who choose to undergo adult scoliosis surgery can hope to experience a significant improvement in their spinal balance and overall quality of life with a return to an active lifestyle.

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Update Regarding COVID-19 View Update Virtual Consultation

Dear Patients:

Our patients' health and safety is our number one priority. Our office continues to be open for all email, telephone, and online inquiries. You can call us at 646-916-3962 or contact us via email to schedule your virtual telemedicine or in-person visit. Our doctors will be holding regular office hours for virtual video consultations and follow-up visits that permit you to stay in the comfort of your own home, utilizing your computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Additionally, we will continue to see select patients in the office for consultation and follow-up visits, including preoperative and postoperative appointments. Our doctors continue to perform procedures in our private, free-standing surgery center that offers an array of outpatient surgical services to treat spinal issues such as acute back pain, disc herniations, sciatica, and pinched nerves in the back or neck. We are also able to offer clean and efficient on-site x-ray capabilities in our office.

Please know that we join our community in taking all advised precautions* to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and ensure the safety of patients and staff.

Call today to schedule a consultation and explore your options with the Spine Center at OrthoManhattan.

The following precautionary measures have been established to ensure the safest environment possible:

  • All patients are screened both prior to and on the day of their office appointment. Patients will not be permitted in the office and will be asked to reschedule their appointment if:
    • You or anyone in your household are experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, or shortness of breath.
    • You have been in contact with anybody who has tested positive for coronavirus or have traveled (both domestically and internationally) within the last 14 days.
  • We have updated our patient and visitor policies:
    • Only a limited number of patients will be permitted on the office hour schedule.
    • No additional visitors or family members are allowed to accompany the patient during their office visit, unless the patient is in need of an aide or a translator
    • Infants, children, and adolescents are asked to stay home and will not be permitted to accompany the patient to their appointment.

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