What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spine condition that describes an abnormal side-to-side (lateral) curvature of the spine that presents as an S- or C-shape. There are several types of scoliosis, though the two most common types are idiopathic scoliosis and degenerative scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is commonly found in young children and does not have a clear cause, though some researchers believe that genetics play a large part in the development of this condition. Degenerative scoliosis is commonly found in older adults over the age of 65 and is caused by the natural deterioration of the facet joints in the spine.

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, it is important for you to research the condition and the treatment options available for each type of scoliosis. If you have any questions, we encourage you to reach out to our Care Team for more information and for guidance on the best treatment option to fit your needs.

Types of scoliosis

There are several types of scoliosis that can develop in adolescents and adults. These types may have different causes and treatment options, but they all have the same defining symptom — the abnormal lateral curve of the spine. The types of scoliosis include:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis — Idiopathic scoliosis is commonly found in adolescents between the age of 10 and 14. It is more commonly found in young girls, but young boys are also at risk. There is no known cause of idiopathic scoliosis, though many researchers believe that genetics play a role in the development of this condition.
  • Degenerative scoliosis — Degenerative scoliosis occurs in adults later in life due to the natural aging process of the spine. As the years progress, the vertebrae of the spine become compressed by weight gain and repetitive movements. This causes the facet joints around the vertebrae to slowly deteriorate, causing instability in the spine. The vertebrae may shift side to side, which could lead to the development of a lateral curvature.
  • Congenital scoliosis — Congenital scoliosis occurs at birth and is present in infants. Many infants grow out of this condition, though some may require treatment as they get older.

Symptoms of the condition can include stiffness, inflammation and lower back pain. If the spinal cord or nerve roots are impinged by vertebrae, deteriorating disc material or other soft tissues, additional symptoms of pain, weakness, tingling and numbness may radiate into the lower extremities.

Treatment options

Many cases of adult scoliosis can be effectively treated through conservative therapies, such as back braces and physical therapy. These methods of treatment aim to realign the spine and strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine to hold the spine in alignment. In some cases, conservative therapy is not effective in treating scoliosis and a patient is recommended to undergo spinal surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery can help treat adult scoliosis by removing the diseased facet joint, realigning the vertebrae and inserting an implant in the empty disc space to stabilize the spine. Due to the low risk, this surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure at one of our seven world-class surgery centers across the country.

For more information about the minimally invasive procedures we offer or to determine whether or not you are a candidate for our procedures, please contact our Care Team. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.