- Posted on: Jan 15 2017
Many issues with the spine have names that most people have never heard, terms such as spondylolisthesis or stenosis. But just about everyone has heard or scoliosis, probably because the condition is often identified by middle school screening exams.
Scoliosis is a lateral (sideways) curvature in the spine. If you’re looking at a healthy spine from the side, it should have a mild roundness in the upper back and a slight inward curve in the lower back. But when that same spine is viewed from the front it should appear straight. When a person has scoliosis, the spine, when viewed from in front or behind, appears curved.
There are different degrees of scoliosis. At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we can diagnose and treat scoliosis to keep it from affecting our patients’ lives.
What are the types of scoliosis?
At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we usually see four main types of scoliosis.
- Congenital scoliosis— This form is caused by a bone abnormality that is present at birth.
- Idiopathic scoliosis— This is the most common type of scoliosis, but it has no specific identifiable cause. While its cause is a mystery, there is strong evidence that this form of scoliosis is inherited.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis— This type is a result of abnormal muscles or nerves and is frequently seen in people with spina bifida or cerebral palsy.
- Degenerative scoliosis— This form of scoliosis can stem from a traumatic bone injury, previous major back surgery, or osteoporosis.
Who gets scoliosis?
Two to three percent of 16-year-old Americans have scoliosis, but only a tiny fraction of those have spinal curvature that is greater than 40 degrees (the degree at which surgery is considered). Scoliosis affects girls more than boys. Idiopathic scoliosis most often occurs between the ages of 10 and 16. It doesn’t usually progress when the patient becomes an adult.
How do we diagnose scoliosis?
At DFW we look for various clues for scoliosis: uneven shoulder blades, a prominent shoulder blade, uneven waist, or a lean to one side. To settle on the type of scoliosis, we will perform a bone exam and take an x-ray to measure the curvature.
Our usual treatment involves bracing the patient. We generally use this treatment method when the patient has a spinal curve between 25 degrees and 40 degrees. The goal is to halt any progression of the curve.
Surgery can be necessary if the patient has beyond 40 or 50 degrees of curvature. Here the goal is to make sure the curve does not increase, although surgery is not intended to return the spine to a straight orientation. Scoliosis surgery will usually involve fusing two vertebrae together.
If you think your daughter or son may have scoliosis, please come see us at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders. Call 817-916-4685 for an appointment.
Posted in: Scoliosis