Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine (your backbone). Everyone’s spine naturally curves a bit, but people with scoliosis have a spine that curves too much. The spine might look like the letters ‘C’ or ‘S’. Most of the time, the cause of scoliosis is unknown and is called “idiopathic scoliosis”. It is the most common type and is grouped by age:
- Infantile Scoliosis: children age 3 and younger
- Juvenile Scoliosis: children age 4 through 10
- Adolescent Scoliosis: children age 11 through 18
- Adult Scoliosis: Ages 18+
Other Forms of Scoliosis:
- Congenital Scoliosis: present at birth, occurring when the baby’s ribs or spine bones do not form properly.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: caused by an issue in the nervous system that affects the muscles. Conditions associated with neuromuscular scoliosis include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and polio
- Adult Scoliosis: occurs as the spine ages and degenerates. Some patients who already had a curvature from their youth will develop progressive curvature secondary to wearing out of the discs and the joints.
Symptoms may include backache or low-back pain, and/or fatigue after sitting or standing for long periods of time. Patients who have adult degenerative scoliosis can experience severe symptoms including back pain, leg pain, difficulty walking, and/or feeling crooked or hunched forward. Any of these symptoms can significantly impact theirdaily activities.
Treating Adult Scoliosis
It is very important to accurately diagnose and characterize adult scoliosis. Treatments are directed specifically based on this accurate diagnosis. There are many conservative treatments used to treat this disease including physical therapy, chiropractic care, injections, medications, biofeedback, and/or acupuncture. However, in circumstances where conservative treatments do not achieve pain relief and restoration of function, surgery may be recommended. Patients who are candidates for surgery usually have a combination of back pain, leg pain, leg weakness, or even changes in gait and/or difficulty walking. Surgery may also be recommended based on the severity of the deformity. When considering surgical intervention, it is vitally important that a patient seek out spinal surgeons who have been trained in deformity surgery, and routinely perform these type of complex surgeries. Use of the wrong intervention can make the deformity worse, as procedures such as spinal decompression can lead to progressive deformity and pain.
Treating Adolescent Scoliosis
Treatment depends on the cause of the scoliosis, where the curve is in your spine, how big the curve is and whether your body is still growing. Non-surgical care may include a brace or physical therapy. Patients with a less severe curve may be observed over time by their spine physician through evaluation and x-rays. A patient with a more significant curve may be treated with a fusion surgery to correct the deformity. Depending on the specific deformity, various approaches may be recommended. A variety of instrumentation systems (screws, hooks, rods) are used to correct the deformity by accessing the spine from the front of your body (anterior approach), back of your body (posterior approach), or a combination of the two approaches.
Stillwater Scoliosis Surgeons
Complete the ‘Request an Appointment’ section on this page, or contact Midwest Spine & Brain Institute at 1.800.353.7720 to schedule your evaluation.