Scoliosis results from an abnormal curvature of the spine. The condition is deemed present when the spine curvature is more than ten degrees. A variety of treatment plans are available, depending on the cause of the condition. Nonsurgical options such as bracing or physical therapy are often a first course of action. If the disease progressively worsens, surgical options may be necessary.


Different Types of Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis happens when individuals are born with a bone defect. Neuromuscular scoliosis can be caused by spina bifida, cerebral palsy, paralysis or other diseases that include abnormalities in the nerve, brain or muscles. Degenerative scoliosis results from trauma to the spine, such as a fall or back surgery, or illnesses such as osteoporosis or bone collapse. In the most common type of the condition, idiopathic scoliosis, the cause is unknown, but evidence suggests the condition might be inherited.

Idiopathic Scoliosis

Often presents in adolescents ages 10-16 during their “growth spurts”. It is found more commonly in girls.

Congenital Scoliosis

Appears in newborns and is less common than idiopathic scoliosis, affecting 1 in 10,000 babies.

Degenerative Scoliosis

Appears most often in adults age 55 or older.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

A condition caused by disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and muscular system. may accompany neuropathic and myopathic conditions.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Common Early Signs of Scoliosis

Oftentimes scoliosis is first suspected when someone notices something slightly off and comments. Some examples could include:

  • Clothes fit awkwardly or hang unevenly. A parent, friend, or even the person with scoliosis might notice that a shirt or blouse appears uneven, which could be cause for further investigation.
  • Sideways curvature observed while in bathing suit or changing. For instance, a parent could first notice the sideways curvature in an adolescent’s back while at the pool or beach.

Even if a newly discovered asymmetry appears minor, it should be checked by a doctor because scoliosis is easier to treat when caught early.

Symptoms of Moderate or Severe Scoliosis

Only about 10% of people with idiopathic scoliosis have a curve that progresses beyond mild and needs treatment.3 If that progression happens, the deformity becomes more obvious to other people and more likely to cause noticeable symptoms.

Causes of Scoliosis

Doctors don’t know what causes the most common type of scoliosis — although it appears to involve hereditary factors, because the disorder tends to run in families. Less common types of scoliosis may be caused by:

  • Neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
  • Birth defects affecting the development of the bones of the spine
  • Injuries to or infections of the spine

Who Gets Scoliosis?

A common condition, two to three percent of 16 year olds in the U.S. have some degree of scoliosis. Less than 0.1% will require surgery.

Diagnosing Scoliosis

A child may exhibit physical symptoms like an awkward gait, uneven waist and shoulders, or a shoulder blade that sticks out. Often, a pediatrician or parent observes the spinal curves, or it can be detected during a school screening exam. After a physical examination, bend test (in cases where the individual can bend forward), bone exam and X-ray, the diagnosis is made.

Non-surgical Treatment

Adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis should typically see a doctor every four to six months for a physical examination and X-ray. For adolescents whose bones are still growing and who have a spinal curve ranging from 25 to 40 degrees, braces are the preferred treatment. Braces can correct the curve and stop it from progressing. Many children who fail to wear their brace often see the curve return.

Surgical Treatment

For patients whose curvature occurs in the lumbar and  thoracic portion of the spine, minimally invasive spinal surgery is an option. Patients return home after a short hospital stay. The minimally invasive surgical incision is small enough to be covered by a Band-Aid. Because the incision is so small and less tissue is cut, patients experience less pain, faster recovery and fewer complications.
Adolescents with spinal curves ranging from 40 to 50 degrees may be candidates for surgery. Although the spine may not be perfectly straight, surgery should prevent the curve from worsening. During the surgery, metal implants stabilize the spine and hold it straight. A bone graft is placed between the vertebrae. As the bone graft heals over the next one to two years, it permanently joins the vertebrae in a spinal fusion.

Advanced Techniques, Faster Recovery

Minimally invasive surgery for degenerative disc disease includes numerous advanced techniques and technologies compared to traditional spine surgery. DISC of Louisiana is a locally owned Orthopaedic Spine Group specializing in the treatment of degenerative disc disease, as well as a wide range of other spinal conditions. Dr. Shamieh and Dr. James specialize in the latest minimally invasive spinal procedures before unavailable here in south Louisiana.

More Information

If you have questions about spinal stenosis or the minimally invasive spine procedures offered by DISC of Louisiana, please contact us to schedule an evaluation at one of our clinics across the south Louisiana region.

DISC of Louisiana Locations

New Orleans | Hammond | Slidell | Covington | Metairie | Baton Rouge | Gonzales

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