It used to be that a scoliosis diagnosis meant prolonged pain, treatments that did little to correct the issue permanently, and a diminished way of life. Today, however, medical advancements and new procedures mean scoliosis treatment is easier and more successful than ever.
What is scoliosis
Scoliosis “is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine,” according to Dr. Mark C. Valente, Board certified and fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon and Founder and Medical Director of DISC Spine Institute, a leader in minimally invasive back treatments and surgical procedures. “In an X-Ray, the spine may look like an ‘S’ or a ‘C’ shape instead of a straight line.”
Scoliosis sufferers may feel little or no pain, or, depending on the amount of curve in the spine, they may feel a number of different symptoms, including:
- Persistent back pain
- Pain at night
- Change in walking/uneven gait
- Uneven muscle tone
- Uneven shoulders, hips, or legs
In the most severe cases, a person suffering from scoliosis may also have breathing problems or reduced heart function.
Scoliosis in kids
Treatment for children with scoliosis typically starts with monitoring every few months to ensure the curve isn’t worsening. If it continues to progress, a brace may be recommended. Unlike the braces of years ago that were a one-material-fits-all solution, today’s options are better customized to the patient and, therefore, more comfortable.
Additionally, some leading back doctors are using another minimally invasive approach to treat scoliosis in children with great success. Physical therapy has shown promise, and special exercise techniques to help train the muscles surrounding the spine have proven to be effective in stopping the curvature progression.
Scoliosis in adults
Some people might not be aware that scoliosis can also affect adults because they think of the condition as something that pops up while you’re still growing. But, adult scoliosis can develop because of a childhood curvature that was never treated. Adult degenerative scoliosis can also affect adults who had no prior occurrence of scoliosis as a child. It’s usually caused by conditions including spinal stenosis, degenerative discs, compression fractures, and osteoporosis.
When surgery is needed
Thankfully, not every adult who suffers from scoliosis needs surgery. In fact, the curvature of the spine may be so minor that there isn’t even any pain. “The goal of treatment for scoliosis is to prevent the spinal curve from getting worse and to correct or stabilize a severe spinal curve,” said WebMD. “Fortunately, few people who have spinal curves require treatment.”
But, progressive curvature, curvature that causes severe pain and disability, or the onset of neurological symptoms from nerve compression may require surgical intervention. Thankfully, surgery to help correct the spine can be easier to manage than ever.
“In some cases, patients may want to consider surgery,” said Dr. Valente. “New technological advancements over the last 10 years can help to stabilize the spinal curve with a minimally invasive back procedure. We can go in the side through an incision that measures less than a few inches, as opposed to the type of surgical incision up and down the back that used to be done—and is still part of the protocol for some doctors who are not trained in minimally invasive techniques.”
If you’re ready to put an end to your scoliosis pain or if you want more information about treatment options, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain. Today’s minimally invasive procedures include outpatient treatments and easier surgical treatments with small incisions and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.