Lumbar scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature within the five lumbar (lower) spinal vertebrae. While this form of scoliosis is less common than curvature within the thoracic (middle) 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 or develop early in life, it is also prevalent in people middle-aged or older. At this stage of life, the anatomy of the spine begins to wear down. The spinal discs begin to lose water content and become brittle, the cartilage of vertebral joints begins to wear down and bone spurs can begin to form. These problems can compress 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 of the spine can begin to develop.
Treatment for lumbar scoliosis
When diagnosing this condition, doctors will typically first recommend a course of conservative treatment options including a back brace, medication, massage, epidural steroid injections and physical therapy. Surgery can become an option if weeks or months of conservative treatment don’t bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life.
For patients exploring the possibility of spine surgery, the pain, tingling and numbness often associated with adult lumbar scoliosis can be addressed with the minimally invasive spine surgery performed using muscle-sparing techniques at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive stabilization procedures, such as lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), are outpatient alternatives to traditional open back fusion surgery. To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today.
We’re happy to offer a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.