Does scoliosis cause pain & other symptoms?

For many years, scoliosis and pain were not automatically associated. The condition, characterized by one or more S- or C-shaped lateral curves in the spine, can range in severity, and although it may appear like it would cause discomfort, many patients never experience symptoms. However, there are some instances in which scoliosis can cause pain, and there are other conditions that can develop as a result of scoliosis and contribute to discomfort.

Adolescent vs. adult scoliosis

In many cases, the exact causes of scoliosis are unknown and are diagnosed as idiopathic scoliosis. In other cases, patients are born with the condition (congenital scoliosis) or develop it as a result of a neurological or muscular disease (neuromuscular scoliosis). Children and adolescents with these forms of scoliosis may not experience significant pain or nerve compression symptoms. No pressure is placed on the organs, and there is usually no difficulty breathing. Lower back pain may arise, although this is a common symptom for many adolescents in general.

Conversely, adults who were diagnosed with scoliosis as children may eventually experience pain, especially in instances where spinal curvature has worsened over the years. Additionally, adult patients who develop lumbar (lower back) curvatures as a result of the normal degeneration that affects spinal components over time may experience localized lower back pain.

Additional causes of scoliosis-related pain

The development of pain as it relates to degenerative scoliosis may also occur when other conditions arise as a result of spinal curvature. For example, as spinal deformity progresses, narrowing (stenosis) of the spinal canal and foraminal passageways can lead to compression of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, respectively. Symptoms of nerve compression may include radiating pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the lower extremities.

Treating scoliosis

Nonsurgical treatments, such as bracing, anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy are often the first steps taken to address the effects of scoliosis. However, there are cases in which pain becomes debilitating and conservative treatment does little to help. When this happens, a physician could suggest surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a variety of minimally invasive nerve decompression and spine fusion procedures to help relieve adult degenerative scoliosis symptoms and address curvature in the lumbar spine. Contact Laser Spine Institute for more information. We can provide a free MRI review* to determine whether you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgeries.