Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, and most people associate it with teens and children. However, when adults start developing back pain and have difficulty walking, adult-onset scoliosis, also known as degenerative scoliosis, can be the culprit. Fortunately, patients now have good options for addressing this condition.
Degenerative scoliosis happens when intervertebral discs and facet joints degenerate. Both of these parts of the spine are important, with facet joints allowing the spine to bend and intervertebral discs absorbing shock.
Over time, these parts of the spine degenerate for almost all people. However, for patients with degenerative scoliosis, the symptoms associated with degeneration are more severe or the deterioration itself can be faster and more significant than expected. The spine often develops a side-to-side curvature and patients can experience back discomfort and shooting pain in the legs that inhibits mobility.
Usually, degenerative scoliosis is treated when it causes pain, spine deformity or other issues. A surgeon can take a patient’s history, conduct a physical exam and run imaging tests to diagnose this condition and its severity. Mild cases can be treated with physical therapy, water therapy, pain management and epidural steroid injections. Applying ice and heat or getting manual manipulation from a qualified professional can also help.
Less commonly, braces can be used, or a surgeon may recommend weight loss to ensure less pressure is placed on the back.
In some cases, a surgeon will recommend degenerative scoliosis surgery. Factors that help determine this treatment include:
If you have degenerative scoliosis or suspect you may have it and are exploring your treatment options, New York Spine Institute (NYSI) may be able to help. We were founded in 2000 to support patients using the latest, high-quality musculoskeletal care in a compassionate and caring environment. Our team includes board-certified orthopedic surgeons, a board-certified neurosurgeon, pain management specialists, sports medicine specialists and other professionals.