If a patient diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis reaches the point at which the skeleton has matured and the condition continues to progress into adulthood, the diagnosis changes to adult idiopathic scoliosis. This may be apparent in the lumbar or thoracic spine and results in excessive curvature. Adults may notice symptoms such as a rib hump, asymmetry of the shoulders, sagittal imbalance, bone spurs, or lower back prominence on the curvature’s side. Many adult patients also complain of shooting spinal pains, leg numbness, nerve compression, and stiffness in the upper or lower back.
Medical professionals usually take measures to ensure that the spinal curvature does not exceed 40 degrees. Curves under 40 degrees may still respond well to bracing. Once the curvature exceeds 50 degrees, medical findings show that increased curvature at a rate of approximately 1 degree per year is likely. Curvature exceeding 60 degrees often results in pulmonary dysfunction, and cardiopulmonary complications are often seen at 100 degrees.