Scoliosis — overview and treatment options

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine has an excessive lateral, or side-to-side, curvature. 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 this spine condition.

Common in children and adolescents, this form of scoliosis can usually be corrected with a brace. However, it can also develop in adults as the result of natural spinal degeneration. If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, there are some conservative treatment options that may help eliminate your pain and symptoms. Surgical treatment for scoliosis is usually a last resort, but it can become an option in certain circumstances. Consult your doctor about the treatment options that best fit 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 being heredity. Other 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, with girls being more likely than boys to develop scoliosis
  • Age, with children under the age of 16 being more at risk to develop scoliosis
  • Degenerative changes, such as spinal arthritis or degenerative disc disease

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.

For adult degenerative scoliosis, 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 a person’s life and reduce the symptoms of the condition.

In severe cases of scoliosis that have not responded to conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat scoliosis. Our procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, resulting in a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complications for our patients.^ Our minimally invasive stabilization procedures are an outpatient approach to spinal fusion and can help stabilize the spine of certain patients with degenerative scoliosis.

For more information about our procedures and the treatment options available to you, please contact our caring team. We are here to help you understand your condition and make a decision about the treatment that best fits your needs.

We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.