The Different Types of Scoliosis and Treatments

A common spinal condition, scoliosis affects more than three million people per year in the United States. Approximately two to three percent of American teens have been diagnosed with this spinal disorder. But what is this spinal condition and what kind of treatments are available at Pain and Spine Specialists?

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is defined as a sideways curvature of the spine. This disorder often occurs just before puberty during a rapid growth spurt. While females are at a higher risk for developing this condition, males can also be affected by it. On an x-ray, a person’s spine is more of an “s” or “c” shape than the normal straight line. These curves make a person’s shoulders, hips, and waist appear uneven. When a person suffers from scoliosis, the spine’s vertebrae may also rotate, causing one shoulder blade or trunk muscles to be more prominent than others. There are four primary causes of scoliosis that you should be aware of before seeking treatment for this condition.

The Primary Causes of Scoliosis

Although most causes of scoliosis are unknown, or idiopathic, there are some cases where scoliosis develops with other conditions. These causes include:

  • Idiopathic- this type of scoliosis arises without any known cause. However, there is strong evidence that suggests that this type of scoliosis can be inherited or has a genetic component to it.
  • Congenital- this type of scoliosis is caused when a patient is born with a bone abnormality and they develop scoliosis as a result. This ailment develops in the uterus and can be recognized during a child’s infancy. This type of scoliosis is very rare and affects only one in 10,000 children. Those who suffer from this complication generally require corrective surgery.
  • Degenerative- this type of scoliosis typically spurs from the thinning of the bones, caused by aging and general wear and tear. This unexpected type of scoliosis can be caused by an unexpected injury or trauma. Usually occurring later in life, this is one type of scoliosis that can form in healthy patients even during adulthood.
  • Neuromuscular- this type of scoliosis results from reduced muscle or nerve function usually seen in those with cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, and other conditions that may accompany paralysis. Neuromuscular scoliosis is also commonly referred to as myopathic scoliosis.

The severity of these conditions often depends on the severity of the curvature in the spine as well as where the curve is placed.

Treatments for Scoliosis

Most children who suffer from a mild curvature of their spine will not even need treatment for their disorder. Children who have mild scoliosis may need checkups every four to six months to see if there have been any changes in the curvature of their spines. There are some non-invasive treatments that may be considered for these disorders including braces and alternative medicine. If a child’s bones are still growing and they have moderate scoliosis, a doctor may recommend a brace. Wearing a brace won’t cure scoliosis or reverse a curve, but it can prevent a curve from progressing further. Most braces are worn night and day. A brace’s effectiveness increases with the number of hours it is worn per day but these braces can restrict movement and limit activities. Braces are discontinued after the bones have stopped growing. Some studies have found alternative medicines like chiropractic manipulation, the electrical stimulation of muscles, and dietary supplements. Severe scoliosis is often treated with surgery to reduce the severity of the curve and to prevent it from getting worse. The most common surgery is known as “spinal fusion”, where the surgeons connect two or more bones in the spine together so they can’t move independently. Pieces of the bone or a bone-like material are placed between the vertebrae (bones) and metal rods, hooks, screws, or wires typically hold that part of the spine straight and still while the bones fuse. If scoliosis progresses rapidly at a young age surgeons can install a rod that will adjust in length as the child grows, which can be lengthened every six months as the child grows.

Scoliosis is a spinal disorder that could affect every part of your life. Whether your child or you are suffering from scoliosis, Pain and Spine Specialists may be able to help. For more information on our treatments, call us today!

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Pain and Spine Specialists treat many conditions and injuries of the back, neck, and spine by taking a whole-person approach to care. Our focus is getting you back on your feet in good health.

Call us in Maryland at 301-703-8767, in Pennsylvania at 724-603-3560, or in Virginia at 540-433-1905 to make an appointment, or use the form on our site to send us a message.

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