Adult Scoliosis and Kyphosis

What are Adult Scoliosis and Kyphosis?

Contrary to the widely-held belief that scoliosis is always present at birth, some adults may develop a curvature in the spine later in life. Referred to as degenerative or de novo (new) scoliosis, the condition can impact older individuals as the result of aging discs and joints in the spine. When this aging process occurs asymmetrically, vertebrae may “tilt” and cause the spine to curve.

Kyphosis, colloquially known as “hunchback,” refers to a spinal curve that is bent forward in shape, while scoliosis is classified as a side-to-side curve.

Woman performing plank exercise

How are Adult Scoliosis and Kyphosis diagnosed?

Typically, a patient that is experiencing adult scoliosis and kyphosis will notice pain occurring in the spine and back muscles. They may also notice an asymmetry of their shoulders, chest, hips, or pelvis. The spine will be examined by a medical professional and various movements will be tested. Doctors may also test for scoliosis through reflex and sensation tests, as well as an examination of muscle strength.

In most cases, an X-ray will be the final step to confirm the diagnosis. Once the images of the spine are examined, your doctor will begin looking at the specific nature of the case and create a treatment plan based on your needs.

How are Adult Scoliosis and Kyphosis treated?

In the majority of cases, adult scoliosis can be treated with a combination of regular observation, physical therapy and muscle-strengthening exercises, over-the-counter pain medication, and lifestyle changes – most notably cessation of smoking. In some situations operation may be necessary, but our goal is to treat and manage each patient individually.

Surgery can be performed for cases in which the condition significantly worsens over time, or if disabling pain persists despite non-operative treatment.

[Dr. Chang] Spends appropriate amount of time with patient, explains things easily, wasn’t bothered by my short list of questions, very knowledgeable in the not so common form of kyphosis and scoliosis we are dealing with.

John g. (Tempe, AZ)

What can I expect after treatment?

For non-surgical treatment, patients should expect to establish a routine that slows the degeneration of discs in the spine. This includes regular exercise as well as stretching, and an effort to maintain good posture. Seeing a physical therapist regularly can aid in the improvement of the condition.

If surgery is necessary, patients will typically be able to move around within 24-48 hours post-operation. Hospital stays will range from three days to a week. Patients should be able to return to a non physical desk job within 4-6 weeks, but more vigorous activities may take 3-6 months.

For more information or questions, contact us and find a Sonoran Spine location near you. Experience expert spinal care tailored to your needs.

Adult Scoliosis & Kyphosis Providers

Michael ChangMichael Chang, MD
Spine Surgeon
Dennis CrandallDennis Crandall, MD
Spine Surgeon
Jason DattaJason Datta, MD
Spine Surgeon
Alec SundetAlec Sundet, MD
Spine Surgeon
Lyle YoungLyle Young, MD
Spine Surgeon

Success stories

Dear Dr. Crandall and Operating Team,

Thank you so much for my beautiful, new, straight spine. Just 10 days after surgery, I was working out in a PT session when I found my new center of gravity and walked for the first time on my own.

I stopped the session and cried bittersweet tears—tears of joy for my new feeling of freedom in my own body and tears of empathy for the woman who had dealt with increasing limitations for years.

Thanks to your work, I now look forward to many years of enjoyable and productive living. By the way, Dr. Crandall, the curve you gave me is beautiful. Let me know if you ever want to be a sculptor and I will take you under my mentorship.


I’m not generally one to write a review for anything, but I wanted to say how amazing the staff of Sonoran Spine has been. I had surgery by Dr. Chang in the middle of April 2019 for a complex revision of scoliosis surgery I had had as a teenager in New Jersey. He and his staff (Mara, Pierre, and Ryan) made this such an easy experience. While recovery from surgery is painful as expected, I’ve never felt this good in my life. I am only 4 weeks out from surgery, and I am virtually pain free. This surgery has already scientifically improved my quality of life. Prior to surgery, I could barely function due to back pain. Now, I feel like a new person. Thank you so much to Dr. Chang, and to everyone at Sonoran Spine.


With June being #ScoliosisAwareness month, I think this is fitting. It's all thanks to Dr. Chang, Jan Revella, and Pierre! You guys are amazing!


[Dr. Chang] Spends appropriate amount of time with patient, explains things easily, wasn’t bothered by my short list of questions, very knowledgeable in the not so common form of kyphosis and scoliosis we are dealing with.

John g. (Tempe, AZ)