What causes scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to develop an abnormal curvature to the side of the body. 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 three 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. Idiopathic scoliosis has no traceable cause, though many researchers believe that there might be genetic causes for scoliosis.

Sometimes, scoliosis can be caused by a degenerative spine condition, such as facet joint disease. Facet joint disease is a condition that describes the gradual deterioration of the joints in the spine. As the joints of the spine deteriorate, the vertebrae rub together and often create bone spurs. As the deterioration of the joints 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. Once the spine shifts to the side, scoliosis has started.

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 treatment options available for scoliosis: back braces and surgery.

A back brace is commonly prescribed to adolescents with scoliosis that has a curvature of 25 degrees to 40 degrees; this 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.

The most effective method of treatment for adult scoliosis is spinal fusion. During the fusion, implants will be inserted along a small portion of the spine to straighten the spine and prevent future curvature. In some severe cases of scoliosis, the vertebrae will be fused together using an implant to prevent curvature and to stabilize the spine.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a minimally invasive stabilization surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back fusion. 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. Because of our minimally invasive techniques, our surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, and most of our patients are up and walking within a few hours after surgery.

For more information about our minimally invasive stabilization surgery, please contact our Care Team. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.