This misconception has led to a diagnostic and treatment approach that largely ignores the role of scoliosis in chronic lower pain in adults and, as a result, less than satisfactory outcomes for many of these patients.
The pain seen in adult scoliosis is not related to the size of the curve. Several good studies show there is little to no relationship between the size of the cuve and pain. i.e a 20 degree and a 55 degree curve have the same chance of causing pain in an adult. There are two key factors related to pain in adults.
1) Location of the curve. Almost all complaints of pain in adult scoliosis are of lower back pain. The majority of new DDS curve are lower back curves. It is rare for a single curve in the upper spine to cause lower back pain. However, in some cases patients with ASA who have an “S” shaped curve, the bottom half of the curve in the lower back may cause pain as an adult.
2) Balance of the spine. What is meant by “balance” is the forward/backwards, left right/shift of the spine that does not necessarily relate to the size of the curve. Most importantly adults with scoliosis who have a forward shifted posture, or those that are bent forward, will develop more pain than those in a neutral or backwards shifted posture.