Scoliosis is a condition that causes abnormal lateral (side) curvature of the spine. While a slight degree of curving is typically normal in most people, scoliosis causes marked curving of the spine where it resembles the letters “c” or “s.”
What Causes Abnormal Side Spine Curvature?
There are several types of scoliosis, the most common being idiopathic, meaning the origin and onset is unknown. It tends to affect girls at higher rates than boys, and is categorized according to age brackets in children.
- Infantile scoliosis affects newborns to children 3-years-old.
- Juvenile scoliosis affects children of ages 4 – 10.
- Adolescent scoliosis affects children of ages 11 – 18. This type can be exacerbated as children pass through the “growth spurt.”
Neuromuscular scoliosis results from muscular damage from certain nervous system disorders like:
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spina bifida
- Cerebral Palsy
Congenital scoliosis is present at birth and results when a baby’s spine does not form properly in the womb.
What are the Symptoms of Scoliosis?
While most cases of scoliosis do not present visible symptoms, some of the more common signs can include:
- Curved “s” or “c” shaped spine
- Uneven hips or shoulders, where one appears higher than the other
- Back pain
- Fatigue in the spine after long periods of sitting or standing
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
The first step to diagnosing scoliosis is a comprehensive physical exam where an expert orthopedic surgeon can evaluate whether a patient is experiencing abnormal curvature of the spine. Because the full extent of curvature may not always be visible to the naked eye, diagnostic tests like x-rays, scoliometer screening to measure the degree of curving, and MRI may be performed.
Treatment for idiopathic scoliosis may include a back brace, but most cases of this form do not require treatment. Patients are recommended to get a check-up and evaluation every six months. To learn more about scoliosis, please visit the scoliosis page on Wikipedia.
Surgical Treatment for Scoliosis
In some cases, a spinal surgeon may determine that surgery is necessary to straighten the spine and correct alignment. Spine surgery is usually suggested after a back brace has failed to provide relief or the curvature is so severe that it causes chronic back pain or affects breathing. As with any surgical procedure, patients are evaluated on a case by case basis and conservative methods are usually the first course of action for reconstructive surgery treatment.
In order to straighten the spine and to keep it from curving again, Dr. Khurana will implant a bone graft, along with a series of rods, hooks, screws, and wires to help support the vertebrae. There are several options for bone graft material. It can either be sourced from the patient’s own body or from a donor. In some cases, surgeons also use synthetic material for the implant.
To learn more about treatment options for scoliosis, please contact our spine center today.