Spine

Adult Scoliosis

When afflicted by scoliosis, your spine looks more like the letter 'S' or 'C' than a straight line. It makes your shoulders, waist, or hips look uneven. There are two types of scoliosis that can occur in adults: idiopathic and degenerative.

Adult Idiopathic Scoliosis

Adult idiopathic scoliosis is when a person had scoliosis as a teen and it continued into adulthood. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown.

Symptoms

Adults with idiopathic scoliosis have more symptoms than teens. They may lean forward to try to open up space for their nerves or because they’ve lost their natural curve in their low back. Symptoms may include low back pain and stiffness, numbness, and pain shooting down the legs.

Treatment

Symptoms in adults are usually mild so treatment includes over-the-counter pain relievers, exercises to strengthen the core muscles and back, and to improve flexibility. For persistent pain, epidurals or nerve block injections may be used.

If non-surgical options don’t work, surgery may be necessary for patients with disabling back and/or leg pain, and whose daily activities have become very restricted.

Surgical procedures include:

  • Microdecompression: A small incision is made and a microscopic assists the surgeon in guiding tools to the site to relieve pressure on the nerves.
  • Surgical stabilization uses hooks or screws and metal rods to stabilize the spine and allow it to fuse in a corrected position.
  • Fusion uses the patient's bone or bone substitutes to fix the spine into a straighter position.
  • Osteotomy is when spinal segments are cut and realigned.

Vertebral column resection removes entire vertebral sections then the the spine is realigned.

Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Adult degenerative scoliosis begins in adulthood. It’s occurs when the discs begin to degenerate, arthritis affects the facet joints and the disc spaces collapse.

Symptoms

Patients with adult degenerative scoliosis may have back pain, numbness and pain shooting down the legs.

Treatment

Symptoms in adults are usually mild so treatment includes over-the-counter pain relievers, exercises to strengthen the core muscles and back, and to improve flexibility. For persistent pain, epidurals or nerve block injections may be used.

If non-surgical options don’t work, surgery may be necessary for patients with disabling back and/or leg pain, and whose daily activities have become very restricted.

Surgical procedures include:

  • Decompression surgery involves the removal of the roof of the spinal canal and enlarging the spaces where the nerve roots exit the canal, resulting in pain relief.
  • Surgical stabilization uses hooks or screws and metal rods to stabilize the spine and allow it to fuse in a corrected position.
  • Fusion uses the patient's bone or bone substitutes to fix the spine into a straighter position.
  • Osteotomy is when spinal segments are cut and realigned.
  • Vertebral column resection removes entire vertebral sections then the the spine is realigned.