Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

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Preventing Low Back Pain in Adults with Scoliosis

Adults with scoliosis often complain of low back pain (LBP). But so do adults who don't have scoliosis. Not much is known about LBP associated with scoliosis in the adult population. This study compared frequency, intensity, and duration of LBP in this group compared to a control group. The control group were matched for age and sex. They all had LBP but the did not have scoliosis.

Everyone was examined by one physician and had X-rays taken. For the patients with scoliosis, the degree of curvature was measured. For most of the patients in both groups, the pain started around age 50. For some patients, the pain was constant (present every day). Others reported the pain comes and goes.

Severity (frequency and duration) was the same between the groups. The scoliosis group had less frequent episodes. The pain came on slowly and without apparent cause. There were no acute bouts of extreme pain for them.

The scoliosis group was more likely to have groin and leg pain. This was linked to rotation and dislocation of the vertebrae from the scoliosis. Intensity of pain was linked with the severity of the curve for the scoliosis group.

From the results of this study, the authors made several suggestions. First, scoliosis in childhood should be treated appropriately (bracing or surgery when needed) and in a timely fashion. Second, more intensive preventive rehab should be directed at adults with scoliosis. Third, surgery to stabilize rotary dislocation should be considered.

Future studies are needed to assess the psychosocial and behavioral factors in adults with scoliosis who have LBP. Regular follow-up for prevention and treatment may be needed for adults with scoliosis to prevent episodes of back pain. X-ray screening to identify rotational dislocations may be a good idea.

Vincent Gremeaux, MD, et al. Analysis of Low Back Pain in Adults with Scoliosis. In Spine. February 15, 2008. Vol. 33. No. 4. Pp. 402-405.


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