What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine. All spines have a natural curve, however, patients with scoliosis have excessive spinal curving. Usually, scoliosis develops during the growth spurt before puberty, between the ages of 9 and 15. Additionally, some cases of scoliosis are present at birth or due to underlying neuromuscular conditions. The majority of cases are due to unknown causes.
Patients with mild cases of scoliosis have no symptoms apart from the irregularity of their appearance. If the curve of the spine worsens, however, treatment will become necessary. When the spine twists, patients may experience:
- Low back pain
- Extreme fatigue after sitting or standing
- Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
When diagnosing scoliosis our staff at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders will perform a physical examination of the back, shoulders, waist, and hips. This includes taking a spinal curve measurement, using a device called a scoliometer. In addition, patients suspected of having scoliosis typically undergo neurological examinations to evaluate muscle strength, reflexes, and areas of numbness.
After those initial examinations, our staff will also administer imaging tests to determine the severity of the problem and to rule out other possible reasons for the curvature of the spine, such as tumors. Diagnostic imaging tests may include CT, MRI and bone scans.
Types of Scoliosis
- Congenital Scoliosis: Abnormal development of vertebra, present at birth. Sometimes the vertebra fails to form normally, leading to abnormal curvature of the spine.
- Idiopathic Scoliosis: This is the most well-known type that presents most often in adolescence. Both girls and boys can develop idiopathic scoliosis which is hereditary.
- Neuromuscular Scoliosis: The result of underlying neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy, myelodysplasia, muscular dystrophy, polio, spinal cord injury, etc.
- Degenerative Scoliosis: Adult-onset form that occurs secondary to the development of degeneration of the spine and its joints. This is most common after the age of 50.
Treatment options for scoliosis are based on age, gender, location, and severity of the curve. It is important to discuss treatment options with our staff before deciding which treatment, if any, may be best for you. Initial treatment includes monitoring the curvature closely and, if necessary, wearing a brace. This does not cure scoliosis, but it may impede the further progression of the curve.
Once patients have reached maturity, and their bones have stopped growing, there is little risk of the scoliosis worsening. Our staff can assess this growth by the onset of puberty and bone growth tests. Adults may benefit from scoliosis management such as physical therapy or medication. Typically, surgery is not an option unless patients are suffering from a significantly limited physical function. Most patients with scoliosis, even in severe cases, are able to lead normal, productive lives after successful treatment.
After trying other treatment options, more serious cases of scoliosis may require surgical intervention. In most cases, spinal fusion surgery is performed to treat scoliosis. Spinal fusion is a surgical option that connects two or more vertebrae with bone grafts or artificial materials.
During spinal fusion for scoliosis, metal rods are installed to stabilize the area until the bones grow together. Although such surgery is normally done after the patient has finished growing, when the scoliosis is progressing at a dangerous rate, an adjustable rod may be inserted. This allows the rod to be lengthened every 6 months and accommodate the child’s growth.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are experiencing scoliosis symptoms contact our office today at 817-916-4685 to schedule a consultation with one of our scoliosis specialists. DFW Center for Spinal Disorders serves Fort Worth, Dallas, Irving, Flower Mound, Arlington and surrounding areas in Texas.