Nonsurgical treatments for degenerative scoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis is a spine condition that describes a shift in the spinal alignment, often causing a “C” or “S” shape in the spine, due to the breakdown of the facet joints in the spine. Because this condition is degenerative in nature, it primarily affects people age 65 and older as the spine weakens with age.

As the spine breaks down over time, the spinal components become less and less stable, giving way to degenerative spine conditions like scoliosis and other degenerative diseases. Degenerative scoliosis is a common byproduct of spinal arthritis because weakened facet joints can allow vertebrae to shift to the left or right, causing the C- or S-shaped curve that is indicative of scoliosis.

When the vertebrae move out of alignment, they can press against a nearby nerve root, causing pain and radiating numbness, tingling and muscle weakness throughout the lower body.

Common treatment methods for degenerative scoliosis

In many cases, treatment for degenerative scoliosis initially focuses on managing the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause of the spine’s abnormal curvature. These symptoms are treated with nonsurgical treatments consisting of one or more of the following:

  • Medication — Many patients are able to manage their scoliosis symptoms by taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Patients with gastrointestinal or cardiovascular conditions may be advised to take an analgesic such as acetaminophen in lieu of NSAIDs.
  • Cryotherapy — Also called cold therapy, cryotherapy entails applying ice to the lower back to help reduce inflammation and numb pain caused by degenerative scoliosis.
  • Physical therapy — Working with a physical therapist to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the back can provide the spine with added support and may help relieve some of the pressure that is being placed on the spinal nerve, nerve root or spinal cord.

Sometimes, a physician may recommend a combination of conservative treatments, such as pain medication and physical therapy, to help expedite pain relief. You should always consult your physician before changing or beginning any method of treatment for a spine condition.

When to consider surgery for degenerative scoliosis

While some mild forms of degenerative scoliosis can be treated with conservative care, other more severe cases require spine surgery to correct the misalignment in the spine.

If you find yourself faced with a decision about spine surgery for your degenerative scoliosis, consider the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute that has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. We offer minimally invasive stabilization procedures that can realign and support your spine without cutting through the surrounding muscles — an approach not taken by traditional open back surgery. In fact, it is our minimally invasive approach to spine surgery that allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time,^ lower risk of infection and complication, and a higher patient satisfaction score than patients who choose traditional open back fusion.

For more information about how our minimally invasive stabilization surgery can help treat your degenerative scoliosis, contact Laser Spine Institute today. One of our spine care experts can review your MRI report or CT scan and help you take the next step toward pain relief.