Degenerative scoliosis — an overview

Degenerative scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the adult spine. It is also known as adult onset scoliosis and it is generally related to the aging process, particularly as it relates to the cartilage that lines the facet joints. It is very common among patients with spinal osteoarthritis who are 65 or older. The curve, which is either to the left or the right, is typically found in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine, where the vertebrae are subjected to a great deal of wear and tear related to movement and bearing the weight of the upper body.

Causes of degenerative scoliosis

Osteoarthritis of the spine is inflammation caused by the deterioration of the cartilage that lines the spinal joints. As this cartilage deteriorates, the stability of the associated region of the spine becomes jeopardized. This can cause localized pain and inflammation and it can lead to the growth of excess portions of bone known as osteophytes, or bone spurs. Osteophytes are not always symptomatic, but they can become a major problem if they begin to compress an adjacent nerve root or the spinal cord.

In some cases, the deterioration of the spinal joint cartilage causes pressure to build up within the joint, which can lead to the curvature that is diagnosed as degenerative scoliosis.

Treatment for degenerative scoliosis

If it is causing pain and mobility problems, treatment for degenerative scoliosis usually begins with a course of conservative options such as physical therapy, back bracing, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and spinal injections. If symptoms don’t respond to weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may become an option. The goal of spine surgery for degenerative scoliosis is to relieve nerve compression and, if necessary, provide stability to the surrounding area. As a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures,^ Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive spine surgery on an outpatient basis. We perform minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures that can help treat the symptoms of degenerative scoliosis. For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

We can help you receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.