Understanding scoliosis of the spine

Scoliosis of the spine is excessive side-to-side curving in one or more areas of the spine. What causes most cases of scoliosis is unknown, with some relationship to rapid adolescent growth being suspected. The condition can also develop due to abnormal spinal development in the womb, disorders like muscular dystrophy or from the degenerative changes that naturally affect the spinal components over time.

The onset of degenerative scoliosis in adults, while rare, usually affects patients in their 50s or 60s. Degenerative scoliosis can also happen when a previously diagnosed and stabilized case begins to worsen with age.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Because scoliosis can occur at any level of the spine, the range of symptoms varies widely. Some patients may exhibit mild curvature and little to no symptoms, while others exhibit extensive spinal deformity and experience severe pain. In general, the symptoms of scoliosis include:

  • Neck and back pain
  • One prominent shoulder blade
  • One hip higher than the other
  • Uneven shoulders
  • In severe cases, difficulty breathing

If the curvature puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, additional symptoms of radiating pain, numbness, muscle weakness or tingling can travel to the arms or legs.

Treatment options for scoliosis of the spine

Scoliosis treatment can be two-fold — aimed at relieving both the painful symptoms and preventing spinal curvature from worsening. Treatment typically begins conservatively, with methods such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and others. If these do not provide relief and symptoms continue to affect your quality of life, surgery may become an option.

Laser Spine Institute

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression, and in severe cases, minimally invasive stabilization procedures, for adult patients with degenerative scoliosis of the lumbar spine. Our procedures are a safer alternative to highly invasive, traditional open back surgery and offer patients an opportunity to recover faster.^

We are the leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain. To learn if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact our Care Team today for a no-cost MRI review.*