Scoliosis — overview and treatment options

The standard spine is relatively straight vertically, with a slight sway in at the lower back and out at the upper back. A spine affected by scoliosis has a lateral sway to the left or right and often results in the asymmetry of the shoulders and/or hips. Most cases of scoliosis do not result in back pain. However, the most advanced cases of scoliosis may result in pain and difficulty breathing because of a deformity in the rib cage due to the spine condition.

This condition is most prominent in children, and can usually be corrected with a brace. However, if you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and never received treatment to correct your condition, there are some conservative treatment options that may help eliminate your pain and symptoms. You can also seek surgical treatment to realign your spine and reduce your spinal abnormality. Consult your physician about the treatment option that best fits your needs.

Causes and symptoms of scoliosis

Though there has been much research on scoliosis, the cause of the condition is still largely unknown. There are several risk factors that could contribute to the development of scoliosis, the largest risk factor being heredity. Other risk factors include:

  • Birth defects impacting the development of the spine
  • Neuromuscular spine conditions, such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy
  • Injury or infection in the spine
  • Gender — girls are more likely than boys to develop scoliosis
  • Age — children under the age of 16 are more at risk to develop scoliosis
    Typically, scoliosis does not result in pain. However, the common symptoms of this condition do include:
  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other
  • Uneven waist
  • Uneven hips
  • In severe cases, the rib cage can become uneven and cause difficulty breathing

Symptoms can differ from person to person, based on the severity of the scoliosis and the person’s medical history.

Treatment options for scoliosis

If scoliosis is diagnosed early in a young person, the best treatment option is to wear a brace for one to two years. Some braces are very slim and unnoticeable under clothing. Consult your physician about the brace that would yield the best results for you or your child.

If scoliosis is diagnosed after the spine is finished growing, physical therapy may be the best option to increase mobility and decrease pain and symptoms. Physical therapy will not heal scoliosis, but it will make the condition less prominent in an individual’s life and reduce the symptoms of the condition.

In severe cases of scoliosis, surgery might be the best option of treatment. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive stabilization surgery to help treat scoliosis. Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery is a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back fusion, and results in a shorter recovery time§ and lower risk of complications. The two minimally invasive stabilization procedures we use to treat scoliosis are lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). For more information about our procedures and the treatment options available to you, please contact our care team. We are here to help you understand your condition and make a decision about the treatment that best fits your needs.