Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine (backbone). The most common of the three curvatures. There is a natural, forward-and-backward curve to the spine. With scoliosis, the spine rotates and develops a side-to-side curve. Curves may be as mild as 10 degrees or as severe as 100 degrees or more. This condition is diagnosed when the spine looks like a “s” or “c” from the back. The spine is not straight up and down but has a curve or two running side-to-side.
The degree of spine curvature in adults might influence treatment options. Mostly, treatment is geared towards relieving symptoms and not necessarily fixing the curve. The goal is always to decrease pain and improve function.
Although discomfort may occur, most cases of scoliosis in adults are asymptomatic. Back pain occurs for many reasons, including arthritis, inability to stand upright, and/or due to weakness of the core muscles. Leg pain, numbness, or weakness may develop if there is pressure on the nerves in the lumbar spine.
In some cases, changes in the body may include:
- Height loss
- Uneven alignment of the pelvis and hips
Symptoms of Scoliosis include:
- Uneven shoulders or shoulder blades causing one to sit higher than the other
- Uneven rib cage or hips causing one to sit higher than the other
- Misaligned head or neck that may not be centered over the spine
- Patient’s body may lean to one side
- May experience back pain
Medications, therapy, activity modification(s), bracing, and/or injections.
Multilevel decompression to improve room for the nerves, osteotomies (ie breaking the spine at various points) to realign the spine, and/or fusion to hold the spine in an improved global alignment.
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