What causes scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to develop an abnormal lateral curvature. This generally happens in the middle or upper portion of the spine, causing one shoulder or hip to be higher than the other. This condition affects only about 3 percent of Americans and can often be treated with back braces and/or surgery.

Common causes of scoliosis

The most common type of scoliosis is called idiopathic scoliosis, and is the type that often develops in adolescents. Idiopathic scoliosis has no traceable cause, though many researchers believe that there might be genetic causes for this type of scoliosis.

Sometimes, scoliosis can be caused by a degenerative spine condition, such as facet joint disease. Facet joint disease, or spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition that describes the gradual breakdown of the joints in the spine. As the joints of the spine deteriorate, the vertebrae rub together and can create bone spurs. As joint deterioration continues, the pressure of supporting the spine begins to build on the weakened joints until the spine begins to shift to the side to compensate.

Other causes of scoliosis include abnormal muscle or nerve conditions, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, and a bone abnormality at birth.

Treatment options for scoliosis

There are two broad treatment approaches available for scoliosis: conservative options, such as back bracing, and surgery.

A back brace is commonly prescribed to both adolescents and adults with scoliosis that have a curvature of 25 degrees to 40 degrees, which is considered mild scoliosis. A back brace can be worn to hold the spine and muscles in place in an attempt to train the spine. This is most effective in adolescents because the bones are still growing and can be straightened. However, in some cases, the spine returns to its abnormal curvature once the brace is removed. Other conservative options that can be recommended if symptoms become painful include physical therapy, hot/cold compression therapy, massage and epidural steroid injections.

For adult patients with degenerative scoliosis who have exhausted conservative treatment, surgery, such as spinal fusion, can become an option. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures.^ We provide a range of minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures that can treat symptoms related to scoliosis. Instead of making a large incision down the spine, our surgeons can perform a spinal fusion through a small incision of about 1-inch in length. This leads to a streamlined outpatient experience that offers many advantages to our patients.

For more information about our minimally invasive stabilization surgery, please contact our caring team. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness and can gladly provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.