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Causes of Scoliosis


The causes of scoliosis are largely unknown, though the condition can generally be categorized in a few different ways. Abnormal spinal curvature can occur in the womb if the bones of the spine form incorrectly or fuse during development, which is called congenital scoliosis. Neuromuscular scoliosis can also occur, which describes spinal curvature caused by diseases like polio, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or atrophy of the spinal muscles. Degenerative scoliosis, also called adult-onset scoliosis, can occur when the components of the spine begin to collapse. This type of scoliosis can develop in people who had scoliosis earlier in life and are now experiencing a progression of the condition, or it can also develop in adults who have never had scoliosis.

Learning more about degenerative scoliosis

There are a variety of conditions that can lead to degenerative scoliosis, including osteoporosis, osteopenia and facet disease, which is a form of osteoarthritis. When the spinal joints begin to deteriorate and their cartilaginous lining wears away, pressure from the adjacent vertebrae can force the joints out of place, causing abnormal spinal curvature. Degenerative scoliosis primarily affects the lower back, or lumbar spine. Symptoms may include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint inflammation
  • Spontaneous joint lockage

If the shifted vertebrae or intervertebral discs press on nearby spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord, other symptoms may include pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness that radiate through the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

What are my treatment options?

For many individuals, mild scoliosis may not require treatment. Symptomatic scoliosis can usually be managed with a combination of conservative treatments like physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and epidural steroid injections. Some patients, however, may require surgery to address their spinal curvature and/or related nerve compression. Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of adult lumbar degenerative scoliosis. To learn more about the causes of scoliosis and the treatments we offer, contact Laser Spine Institute for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.

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