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Scoliosis is a condition of the spine’s curvature that affects people of all ages, although it is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. Some cases can be effectively treated with scoliosis surgery. If you have scoliosis symptoms or have concerns about your spine health, the spine specialists at Endeavor Health Neurosciences Institute’s Advanced Neurosciences Center can help. 

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder in which the spine has an abnormal sideways curvature. While most cases are mild and don’t cause any complications or require treatment, some cases may worsen over time and must be managed with surgery or other interventions. 

A doctor discusses scoliosis

Symptoms of scoliosis

In most mild scoliosis cases, there are no symptoms or pain. However, you may notice a change in posture. Other possible scoliosis symptoms are:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven waist
  • One shoulder blade or hip that appears to be higher than the other or sticks out more than the other
  • Unnatural leaning of the head or torso to one side

If you have or notice one or more of these symptoms in a loved one, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Diagnosis for scoliosis

If scoliosis is suspected, your doctor may perform a physical and neurological exam as well as order various imaging tests, which may include:

  • X-ray: A simple X-ray can confirm a scoliosis diagnosis and reveal the severity of the spinal curvature. Usually, multiple X-rays will be taken over time to monitor the spine; however, this repeated exposure to radiation can have other health-related consequences.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: This diagnostic tool can provide a more detailed image of the spine but also uses radiation.
  • Ultrasound: This option has a lower health risk than an X-ray or CT scan; however, it can be less precise in determining the severity of the spinal curvature.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRIs are another non-radiation option, but they are generally used when your doctor suspects that your scoliosis is caused by an underlying condition.

Causes of scoliosis

There are various causes of scoliosis, such as genetic disorders or injury to the spine; however, in most cases, the cause is unknown. The condition generally has three classifications: 

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type, accounting for about 80% of all cases. Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown. 

Congenital scoliosis occurs when a birth defect affects how the bones in the spine develop. Since these issues are present at birth, congenital scoliosis is usually diagnosed at a younger age. 

Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs due to a neurological or muscular disorder such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, and it tends to progress more quickly than other types of scoliosis. 

Treatment for scoliosis

The treatment for scoliosis depends on the degree of curvature in the spine, age, and sex. Girls are at higher risk for progression than boys. For children who have a mild condition, no treatment may be necessary; however, they will need regular checkups to see if the curve is worsening.

If you have a moderate or severe spinal curve, you may need a brace or even scoliosis surgery. 

Braces have been shown as an effective method for children who are still growing and have moderate scoliosis. While braces do not cure or reverse the spine curvature, they can help prevent the progression of the curve.

Braces conform to the body and are generally unnoticeable under clothing. Children with a brace can generally participate in most activities with no problem. The brace can be removed to participate in certain sports.

Braces are meant to be worn for 13 to 16 hours per day. The longer it’s worn, the more effective it will be. The use of a brace can be discontinued when the child stops growing. 

If you have severe scoliosis, your doctor may recommend scoliosis surgery to help reverse the curve and prevent it from worsening. At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, spinal surgeons use the latest innovative technology and techniques to surgically treat scoliosis. There are a couple of options: 

  • Spinal fusion: This procedure connects two or more of your spine bones (vertebrae) together. This prevents the bones from moving independently and helps to straighten the spine. 
  • Expanding rods: In this procedure, one or two expandable rods are attached along the spine and can be adjusted in length as the child grows to keep the spine straight.  

What to do after a diagnosis of scoliosis

At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, we specialize in providing comprehensive care for patients with scoliosis. Our team of spinal surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, and other specialists work together to create individualized treatment plans that meet each patient’s needs. 

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