Lumbar scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine within the five lumbar (lower back) vertebrae. While this form of scoliosis is less common than curvature within the thoracic (mid-back) region, it is common for the curvature to include the upper lumbar vertebrae and the lower thoracic vertebrae. This form of scoliosis is known as thoracolumbar scoliosis. Those most commonly affected by lumbar curvature are people with degenerative spine conditions in the lower back, where years of bending and twisting and bearing the weight of the upper body can take a toll.
Degenerative conditions that cause lumbar scoliosis
While lumbar scoliosis can be present at birth (congenital scoliosis) or develop early in life (adolescent idiopathic scoliosis), it is more prevalent in people middle-aged or older. At this stage of life, the anatomy of the spine generally has begun to wear down. The intervertebral discs begin to lose water content and become brittle, the cartilage of vertebral joints begins to fray, and bone spurs (osteophytes) begin to form. These anatomical abnormalities can begin to impinge or irritate spinal nerve roots, producing many symptoms, including:
- Localized pain
- Pain that travels the length of the nerve
- Tingling or numbness in the lower extremities
- Loss of muscle strength in the lower extremities
If the degenerative spine condition progresses, or if there is a concurrent neuromuscular condition such as cerebral palsy, a lateral curvature (to the right or the left) of the spine might result.
Treatment for lumbar scoliosis
The pain, tingling and numbness often associated with adult lumbar scoliosis might be addressed with innovative, minimally invasive stabilization (MIS) procedures performed using advanced techniques at Laser Spine Institute. Procedures such as lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) are alternatives to traditional open back fusion surgery. To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute.