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 most common among patients with spinal osteoarthritis who are 65 or older. The curve, which is either to the left or the right, is almost always found in the lumbar (lower back) 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 the deterioration of the cartilage that lines the facet (vertebral) joints. As this cartilage deteriorates, the stability of the associated region of the spine becomes jeopardized. This degenerative spine condition 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 impinge or irritate a nearby spinal nerve root.
In some cases, the deterioration of the spinal joint cartilage causes pressure to build up within the joint, shifting that segment of the spine into a curved shape (scoliosis).
Treatment for degenerative scoliosis
Degenerative scoliosis can give rise to other conditions, such as spinal stenosis and foraminal stenosis. These conditions may be treated at Laser Spine Institute using minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed with advanced techniques. For adult lumbar scoliosis, we can address the curvature of the spine through minimally invasive stabilization (MIS) procedures that are alternatives to traditional open back fusion. For more information about adult degenerative scoliosis, or to learn more about our MIS procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.