Neuromuscular scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis is an abnormal left or right curvature of the spine that results from a neuromuscular disorder, such a cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. It is particularly common in children who experience problems of the neurological system.

Children with neuromuscular disorders often suffer from a weakness in the trunk area of the body, forcing many of these children to use wheelchairs or walkers. Because of the weakness found through the trunk in the muscles surrounding the spine, the spine begins to curve into a C shape, causing difficulty when sitting upright or standing. This condition will continue to worsen over time without proper intervention and treatment.

Causes of neuromuscular scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis is most often a side effect or result of a more serious neuromuscular condition. These conditions usually present themselves in young children and are physically evident, showing signs of physical weakness and lack of coordination, as well as constant fatigue.

By the time a patient is diagnosed with neuromuscular scoliosis, he or she typically has already had to deal with the effects of a disorder of, or damage to, the neurological system. These disorders and sources of damage include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myopathy
  • Spinal cord tumors
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Atrophy of spinal muscles
  • Poliomyelitis

About 10 percent of scoliosis cases are neuromuscular in nature. Not every patient with one or more of the conditions listed above (or other neuromuscular disorders) develops scoliosis, and not all will experience the severe curvature that can hamper physical capabilities. Those with mild curvature might require nothing more than occasional medical observation. Some forms of mild scoliosis can be reduced by wearing a back brace that fits slimly under clothing. However, if the condition is not responding to conservative treatments, the patient may require treatment that could include surgery.

Treatment for neuromuscular scoliosis

The goal of treatment for this type of scoliosis is to maintain the spine in a balanced position and to control the curve of the spine during growth. This may be achieved nonsurgically or through spinal fusion with instrumentation. Surgery has a high level of success in returning patients to preoperative function levels. Laser Spine Institute does not treat any form of adolescent scoliosis. However, if you are an adult and have scoliosis caused by a degenerative condition, contact our Care Team to learn about our minimally invasive procedures and to see if you are a candidate for our surgery.