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What is Scoliosis?


Scoliosis is a disorder in which the spine curves to the side. Anyone can have scoliosis, but it most commonly presents itself in children during the growth spurt of puberty. Most cases of adult scoliosis fall into one of two types of scoliosis:

  • Adult idiopathic scoliosis – This refers to patients who have had scoliosis since childhood and grown into adulthood with the condition.
  • Degenerative scoliosis – This type of scoliosis develops because of disc degeneration. There is a loss of height as the disc degenerates. If the disc wears down more on one side than the other, it places more pressure on that side of the spine, eventually causing the spine to curve. The condition worsens as more discs degenerate.

Over time, scoliosis can cause back and neck pain, as well as pain and numbness in the legs. It can also cause other painful spinal conditions, such as stenosis.

If you’ve been living with pain caused by a deformity in your spine, the Back Pain Centers of America can help. Call us at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to be connected with a board-certified orthopedist experienced in minimally invasive scoliosis treatment procedures.

How scoliosis can cause pain

Scoliosis Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of idiopathic scoliosis, which is the most common type of scoliosis, is still not known. It does appear that there is a hereditary link since scoliosis seems to run in families. The causes of other less common types of scoliosis may include:

  • Birth defects
  • Injuries or infections of the spine
  • Neuromuscular conditions, such as muscular dystrophy

The following are risk factors for idiopathic scoliosis:

  • Age – Scoliosis most often begins just before puberty during a growth spurt.
  • Family history – Scoliosis seems to run in families.
  • Gender – Even though mild scoliosis develops at the same rate in both genders, a girl’s risk of the curve worsening and needing treatment is higher.

Scoliosis Symptoms

At first, the signs of scoliosis may be hard to spot, but as the curve in the spine worsens, signs and symptoms become more obvious, including:

  • Uneven shoulders – One shoulder may appear higher than the other.
  • Uneven shoulder blades – One shoulder blade may appear more prominent.
  • Uneven waist and hips – One hip may appear higher than the other.

In some cases, the curve in the spine can become severe enough to cause the spine to twist. When this happens, the ribs on one side of the body will stick out farther than the other side.

The signs and symptoms are the same for children and adults with scoliosis, though the changes in appearance may become more prominent with age. Adults may notice that their shirts don’t fit properly or that one pant leg is longer than the other. Back and leg pain can also be more severe in adults because of disc degeneration which can also cause stiffness and pain that radiates down the legs and numbness.

Other symptoms of severe scoliosis may include:

  • Chronic back and neck pain
  • Change in the body’s appearance
  • Lung and heart problems

BPC shares vital information about degenerative disc disease

Scoliosis Treatment Options

Scoliosis treatment depends on several factors and varies with the different types of scoliosis. These include age and whether or not the person is still growing, along with the severity of the curve and its pattern.

For children, observation every 4-6 months is recommended if the child has a mild curve and is still growing. Bracing may also be used in a child who is still growing if the curve in the spine is moderate.

Back pain from scoliosis can sometimes be relieved using nonsurgical treatments, such as:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Electrical stimulation

It’s important to understand that most nonsurgical treatment for scoliosis will only help with the pain and discomfort caused by scoliosis. It will not prevent the curve from getting worse if growth has completed. The only scoliosis treatment available to treat the curving once growth is completed is surgery. Surgical procedures for scoliosis include several interbody fusion surgeries:

Fortunately, these procedures can be done using minimally invasive techniques that offer minimal scarring and a faster recovery time than traditional scoliosis surgery.

If nonsurgical treatment for scoliosis is not relieving your back and leg pain, you may be able to join the more than 30,000 people just like you who have found relief with one of our minimally invasive procedures.

Minimally invasive spine surgery can help stabilize the spine and improve the curving using innovative techniques that avoid muscle damage and the long recovery time of open spine surgery. Call us at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to find out how our minimally invasive treatment for scoliosis can help improve your quality of life.

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