Scoliosis and sciatica – minimally invasive treatment options from Laser Spine Institute

Scoliosis and sciatica can occur in adults when age-related spinal degeneration leads to a curvature of the spine. Due to everyday wear and tear, the parts of the spine can weaken and deteriorate over time. This deterioration can cause the onset — or worsen an existing case — of excessive curving of the spine, or scoliosis.

Because degenerative scoliosis often occurs in the lower, or lumbar, region of the spine, it can put pressure on the long sciatic nerve that starts there and travels to the lower body. The resulting group of symptoms — shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness — in the hips, buttocks and one or both legs, is called sciatica. While scoliosis itself isn’t always painful, it can cause sciatica if displaced spinal anatomy puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

If you have scoliosis and have developed crippling sciatica symptoms that are affecting your life, family and everyday tasks like yard work or grocery shopping, see your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and learn about treatment options.

Methods used to evaluate spinal curvature

Following a physical examination, a physician will typically test muscle strength and reflexes. X-rays can be ordered for a better view and measurement of spinal curvature associated with degenerative scoliosis. More detailed diagnostic imagery like an MRI may be needed for a more precise look into the causes of any painful symptoms.

Typically, conservative approaches are recommended to treat adult scoliosis and sciatica. Common options include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Targeted exercises and physical therapy
  • Supportive braces
  • Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and posture correction

Minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open back surgery

In certain cases, surgery might be recommended as a last resort to treat degenerative scoliosis and sciatica. This is usually when conservative options have been exhausted without bringing acceptable symptom relief. Traditional open back surgery involves large incisions that sever supporting muscles, leading to overnight hospitalization and a long recovery period.

Minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative offering many advantages compared to a traditional open back procedure, like a smaller incision, shorter recovery time and less scarring.^ For adult patients with scoliosis who are suffering from sciatica or other nerve compression, the skilled surgical team at Laser Spine Institute can offer options. For example, a minimally invasive decompression surgery can take pressure off the sciatic nerve if your scoliosis condition is relatively stable.

We also perform minimally invasive stabilization in addition to minimally invasive decompression procedures that can also provide added stability. These surgeries can potentially slow the rate of curvature in some cases of scoliosis.

To learn if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, please contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*