Treatments for Scoliosis

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Scoliosis is a type of spinal deformity that is often diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence. Scoliosis can progressively get worse over time. Therefore, early treatment is highly recommended. In this article, we will consider the different types of scoliosis and the treatment options available.

If you feel discomfort and pain in your spine and want to know more about what treatment options are available, contact one of our offices at JIS Orthopedics today! We have locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH for your convenience.

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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes the spine to curve sideways in an S or C shape. It can affect individuals of all ages, but it is most commonly discovered during childhood or adolescence.

Symptoms of scoliosis often include uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade that protrudes further than the other, and waistline asymmetry. In some cases, scoliosis can lead to pain and decreased function of the spine if left untreated. Some notice that their hip sticks out or feel like their legs are uneven.

Different Types of Scoliosis

There are different types of scoliosis that are defined according to their underlying cause. These are described in detail below.

Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis occurs because of misshapen vertebrae. As the child grows, the curvature of the spine can become more prominent. It’s possible to diagnose congenital scoliosis during early childhood if symptoms are present. Surgery is not usually recommended for early diagnosis until the severity of its development is realized.

Idiopathic Scoliosis

The cause of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown. However, the condition usually gets worse from around 10 years of age and is often referred to as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. A child that has idiopathic scoliosis with many years of growth remaining has a significant risk of developing severe scoliosis.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Those with underlying neurological or muscular diseases may develop neuromuscular scoliosis. An imbalance in muscle strength along the spine or torso can cause a spinal curvature. Conditions such as muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or cerebral palsy are some examples of these conditions.

Degenerative Scoliosis

As you age, wear and tear will affect the disks and joints of the spine. Over time this wear and tear can cause the spine to curve sideways. As this type develops in your later years, it is often referred to as adult scoliosis.

Scoliosis Symptoms

There are several symptoms to look out for that might indicate scoliosis. These include the following:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Rib cage sticking out on one side
  • One shoulder blade being more prominent than the other
  • Back pain
  • Uneven waistline
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath due to the rib cage being compressed
  • One hip higher than the other
  • Posture that appears leaning to one side
  • Leg pain or numbness if there is pressure on the spinal cord within the lumbar spine

These symptoms could indicate other spinal deformities and, therefore, should always be diagnosed by a doctor.

How is Scoliosis Diagnosed?

Several diagnostic methods may be used to diagnose scoliosis. Your doctor may use the following methods to measure the degree of spinal curvature:

  • Physical examination
  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Ultrasound imaging

What Are the Treatment Options for Scoliosis?

Scoliosis treatment aims to reduce the curvature of the spine. The approaches will depend on the severity of the spinal curve.

When the spinal curve is less than 20 degrees and the child is still growing, your orthopedic physician will likely opt for a “watch and wait” approach. This includes repeated observations and examinations to see how the scoliosis progresses.

When the spine curves between 20 and 50 degrees and the child is still growing, your physician will likely recommend using a brace. The brace is contoured to fit the body and will be worn under clothes. It may be recommended to wear anywhere between a few hours or as long as possible. As the spine grows, the brace will hold the spine in place to prevent the spine from curving.

Surgical treatment may be recommended when scoliosis is severe. During spinal fusion surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will straighten your spine and fuse the bones so they can no longer curve. Spinal surgery is usually considered the last option because of the complications that can arise.

Physical therapy exercises have proven useful in helping patients with idiopathic scoliosis. During physical therapy sessions, your physical therapist can help you learn these exercises.

Schedule an Appointment with Us Today!

If you have concerns about scoliosis and want more information about what can be done to help, contact JIS Orthopedics in New Albany or St. Clairsville, Ohio. Our expert orthopedic specialists can provide you with the answers you are looking for. Give us a call or book your visit online today!

Medically reviewed by Derek Snook, MD

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