Scoliosis symptoms and diagnosis

Scoliosis is a condition characterized by the abnormal curvature of the spine, usually in an S- or C-shape. It can occur throughout the spine, and is either characterized as structural, meaning the spine has a fixed curve, or nonstructural, meaning the spine is structurally normal and the curve is only temporary.

There are several types of scoliosis, each of which has its own causes. These types are called:

  • Congenital. Congenital scoliosis is present at birth and is usually the result of a malformed or unusually fused vertebrae.
  • Neuromuscular. Abnormalities in the body’s muscle-nerve pathways, as with conditions like cerebral palsy or spina bifida, cause this type of scoliosis. If left untreated, neuromuscular scoliosis may lead to paralysis, but the condition can be treated with spinal bracing, growth rods or surgery.
  • Idiopathic. This is the most common form of scoliosis and is most often detected when the affected individual is of middle school or high school age. Its cause is currently unknown, but experts believe it may be linked to genetics.
  • Degenerative. Also known as adult scoliosis, this condition develops during adulthood, and can be caused by an injury or degenerative spine conditions such as spinal osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.

The symptoms of adult scoliosis

Adult or degenerative scoliosis is not always painful. Other times, however, people with the condition may experience symptoms like uneven hips and lower back pain. Difficulty breathing can also be possible when spinal curvature is severe. Scoliosis may also result in nerve compression, which can lead to additional symptoms, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling

Adult scoliosis diagnosis

It is important for patients with adult scoliosis to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment from a doctor in order to keep the condition from worsening. The diagnostic process typically involves a thorough evaluation and diagnostic imagery such as an MRI to determine the nature and degree of spinal curvature.

After arriving at a diagnosis of adult scoliosis, doctors typically recommend nonsurgical treatment to manage symptoms rather than correcting the curvature in itself. These treatments may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy and lifestyle changes such as weight loss, when necessary.

If several months of conservative treatment are not enough to control symptoms, or if the patient’s spinal curvature is severe upon diagnosis, he or she may need to consider the surgical options available. At Laser Spine Institute we use muscle-sparing techniques to treat the symptoms of scoliosis while providing a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open spine surgery. To learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

We are happy to provide you with a free review* of your MRI to determine if you are a candidate for our procedures.