Scoliosis treatment for adults

Scoliosis treatment through surgery is rarely necessary; the vast majority of patients are able to find effective pain relief through conservative treatments. For example, the scoliosis that affects children and teenagers is usually brought on by a growth spurt and often resolves on its own — or with a brace — as the child continues to grow.

Adult-onset scoliosis — or excess lateral curving of the spine — is a different condition from adolescent scoliosis. It most often occurs gradually due to deterioration of the spine, including the discs and joints. The curvature itself is not necessarily painful, but if it causes compression of the nerves that run through and out of the spine, treatment can be required.

If scoliosis is painful

The best scoliosis treatment plan can vary based on the level of discomfort and degree of curvature present. In general, a physician will periodically monitor the progression of the curve. If you are experiencing pain, nonsurgical approaches are almost always first recommended by a doctor over the course of several weeks or months. These can include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy and low-impact exercises to strengthen the spine
  • Epidural steroid injections to relieve pain, numbness and tingling
  • A back brace to provide spinal support

If the pain worsens

Most adults have success with conservative scoliosis treatment and can have a high quality of life without surgery. However, if weeks or months of these methods do not bring acceptable levels of relief, surgical options may be considered. The goal of surgery for adult-onset scoliosis is usually the relief of symptoms related to nerve compression instead of correction of the curvature. With traditional open back surgery, decompressing and/or stabilizing the spine requires large incisions and a long, often painful, recovery period. If the difficulties associated with these procedures concern you, know that there are alternative surgical options.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery that can treat painful symptoms for adults affected by scoliosis. Two of the minimally invasive stabilization procedures that our skilled surgeons can perform — the lateral lumbar interbody fusion and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) — are able to slow the rate of spinal curvature in certain cases. All of our procedures use small incisions and are performed on an outpatient basis, avoiding the need for long hospital stays. For more information, contact our Care Team and request an MRI review today.