Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that typically occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty, between the ages of 10 – 12, although some types of scoliosis appear much sooner.
Most cases of pediatric scoliosis are mild and don’t require treatment, but some children develop spine deformities that get worse as they grow, and must be treated.
Adult scoliosis is typically the result of untreated childhood scoliosis, but it also may result from a degenerative joint condition. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the lower back; numbness, cramping, or shooting pain in the legs; fatigue due to unusual strain on muscles, back, and legs.
Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.
There are several types of scoliosis that occur in children and adults:
When scoliosis appears in children, treatment often isn’t necessary because the curve typically corrects itself as the child grows. However, checkups every four to six months are recommended to monitor the condition. Depending on the child’s age and degree of curvature, treatment could be indicated.
The type of treatment indicated depends on several different factors:
For children and adult patients with moderate to severe scoliosis, there are three types of treatment options that prove most effective:
We generally recommended this option for children and adolescents whose curvatures are small or moderate. For adults, we will recommend observation, exercise, and physical therapy if the curves are not large, combined with the judicious use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
A brace is especially helpful for children with moderate scoliosis whose bones have stopped growing. Although wearing a brace won’t cure scoliosis or reverse the curve, it can prevent further curve progression. The more hours a day the brace is worn, the more effective it is.
A small number of scoliosis patients will require surgery. That’s because severe scoliosis typically gets worse over time unless surgically treated. At BSSNY, we use less invasive surgical techniques that translate to gold standard outcomes, but with quicker recovery and less pain for the patient. To learn more about our approach to scoliosis surgery, click here.