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What is scoliosis?

Often defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine, scoliosis is a condition that can affect any portion of the spine, from the neck to the lower back, though the most common location is the lumbar spine (lower back). This term refers to a side-to-side curve, which often occurs in a C or S formation.

Scoliosis diagnosis information

In most cases, people are diagnosed with scoliosis in childhood or early adolescence. You may be familiar with the way physicians check people for a spinal curvature — by having them bend at the waist and checking to see if one side of their ribcage is more prominent than the other. In addition to this physical exam, physicians may also request a follow-up X-ray to see the extent of the shift and/or an MRI to rule out potential underlying causes such as tumors.

Potential causes

Scoliosis is often caused by inherited traits that impact the development of spinal bones, but it can also be linked to cerebral palsy or other neuromuscular conditions, as well as infections or injuries to the spine.

In some cases of degenerative scoliosis, a severely damaged spinal disc will cause the surrounding vertebrae to shift out of alignment, creating an abnormal curvature in the spine. This cause of scoliosis can be identified through an MRI test.

Possible symptoms

Scoliosis symptoms vary in severity and often depend on where and how the spine curves. Some of the more typical symptoms include:

  • Neck and back pain
  • Uneven waist or hips
  • A more prominent shoulder blade or side of the rib cage
  • One hip that sits higher than the other
  • Pain, numbness or cramping in the legs

In some severe cases, the shift in the spinal curvature can even lead to difficulty breathing due to compression of the lungs and the heart.

Treatment options

For adults who have scoliosis, treatment typically focuses on managing pain and other symptoms through pain medications, physical therapy and regular exercise. However, for people whose symptoms get progressively worse, surgery can be an option.

Scoliosis surgery

Spinal fusion surgery is the most common procedure for adults who have scoliosis, because it can help stabilize the spine and can slow the progress of the curvature. Such surgeries can be performed using traditional open back approaches or through minimally invasive spine surgery, like the procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures offer a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication than traditional surgery.

To learn more about Laser Spine Institute and the scoliosis treatment options at our Cincinnati surgery center, contact us today. You can even find out if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery by getting a no-cost MRI review.*