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 letter 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
- Congenital scoliosis: present at birth, occuring when the baby's ribs or spine bones do not form properly.
Other Forms of Scoliosis:
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: caused by a nervous system problem that affects the muscles. Problems can 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 a while. 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 your daily 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, 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. Patients who have deformities can often worsen if the wrong intervention is chosen, as procedures such as spinal decompressions can lead to progressive deformity and pain.
Treating Adolescent Scoliosis
Treatment depends on many things including the cause of the scoliosis, where the curve is in your spine, how big the curve is, whether your body is still growing. Non- surgical care may consist of 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 to the spine may be recommended. A variety of instrumentation systems (screws, hooks, rods) are used to correct the deformity from a posterior, anterior, or combined procedure.
Minnesota Scoliosis Surgeons
We have clinics throughout the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Contact Midwest Spine & Brain Institute at 1.800.353.7720 to schedule your evaluation.