Scoliosis FAQ — frequently asked questions

Scoliosis can be a difficult condition to live with, causing pain and affecting your ability to complete everyday activities. It can also lead to a lot of questions, whether you’ve dealt with it in the past, or have been recently diagnosed. At Laser Spine Institute we believe educating yourself as a patient is an important part of your treatment and can make you more confident and involved in the process.

In addition to consulting with your doctor for information and advice, we hope these answers to frequently asked questions we receive from patients can help you in your journey to lasting relief.

Q: What is scoliosis?

A: Scoliosis is a spinal condition that is characterized by excessive curvature of the spine toward the right or left. The curvature tends to cause the spine to form the shape of an “S” or “C.”

Q: What causes scoliosis?

A: The type of scoliosis that is commonly present at birth is generally attributed to genetic factors. Scoliosis can also develop during childhood or the teenage years as a result of a secondary condition, such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy. In adults, scoliosis is often caused by degenerative changes in the lumbar region of the spine that occur along with the natural aging process.

Q: What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

A: Scoliosis can be asymptomatic, especially if the excessive spinal curvature does not cause nerve compression. However, when degenerative scoliosis does compress a spinal nerve, it can disrupt sensory and motor functions. The nerve roots that originate in the lumbar region of the spine, where degenerative scoliosis primarily develops, give sensation to the hips, buttocks, legs and feet. For this reason, the symptoms of degenerative scoliosis, such as pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness, are commonly experienced throughout the lower extremities.

Q: What are the treatment options?

A: Minor symptoms of scoliosis can usually be managed effectively with conservative treatments like supportive bracing, medication and physical therapy. In severe cases, scoliosis can cause significant back pain as well as respiratory problems and spinal cord damage that requires surgery.

In the past, patients who required scoliosis surgery had no choice but to undergo a traditional open back procedure, which involves a large incision, muscle disruption, hospitalization and a long recovery period. As an alternative, the highly-skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time in comparison.^

Q: Will I need surgery?

A: If you are experiencing debilitating symptoms associated with scoliosis and conservative treatment measures have not provided adequate relief, surgery may become an option you and your doctor discuss.

Before consenting to highly invasive traditional open spine procedures, please contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.