Scoliosis is a side-to-side curvature of the spine, usually developed in adolescence. This is not a disease. It simply means that a generally healthy individual has a spine that has curved. While its exact origins are unknown, the condition is more frequently found in females than in males. In very rare cases, scoliosis will cause the spine to twist in a way that interferes with the respiratory or pulmonary function.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) estimates that scoliosis is a condition which affects approximately 2 to 3 percent of the population.
The ultimate goal of any scoliosis treatment at Hunt Spine is always to avoid spine surgery if possible. We look each patient’s history and physiology to determine the best course of treatment for that individual.
Types of Scoliosis
Congenital: This type of scoliosis is present from birth. It often occurs as a result of a deformity of one or more vertebrae during fetal development. The location and severity of this deformity (or deformities) will determine the seriousness of the scoliosis as it progresses. Not all spine deformities will result in a curvature of the spine, therefore, it is necessary to watch and see how the spine develops as the child grows. If the curvature in the spine reaches an arch that is greater than 25%, treatment is necessary. Idiopathic: This is the most common type of scoliosis and it is generally painless. With idiopathic scoliosis there are usually no deformities of the vertebrae present, yet a curvature of the spine forms during growth spurts. This often results in misalignment of the ribcage and hips. Idiopathic scoliosis is frequently diagnosed during adolescence and the cause is largely unknown but may be the result of a genetic abnormality. Neuromuscular: This develops as a result of injury or illness to the brain, spine, or nervous system. Persons with conditions such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or spinal cord injury cause the muscles to stop working properly and result in spinal misalignment. As the severity of these conditions increases, so will the severity of the curvature to the spine. Postural: Postural scoliosis frequently occurs as a result of pain that causes a curvature of the spine. This form of scoliosis is not a true malformation, but rather a result of misalignment. Syndromic: Syndromic scoliosis is possible in a person with diseases of the connective tissues such as Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Prada-Willi, Retts syndrome, and some other conditions. Many of these syndromes are diagnosed in early childhood.
Treatment of Scoliosis
Treatment of scoliosis depends on the spinal maturity (age) of the patient and the severity to which the spine is curved. In children, not all spine deformities will result in a curvature of the spine, therefore, it is necessary to watch and see how the spine develops as the child grows. As the child develops, X-rays will be used to monitor the progression of the condition. If the curvature in the spine reaches an arch that is greater than 25 percent, treatment will be necessary to ensure the spine develops correctly. While congenital, idiopathic, and neuromuscular scoliosis cannot be prevented, they can be controlled through treatment and neuromuscular surgery.
Braces are commonly used in children and adolescents aid in the correction of the curvature of the spine as the child grows. Braces are not appropriate in children who have vertebral abnormalities present at birth but may be used to treat a spine that is curved. According to the AANS, braces can stop the progression of scoliosis in roughly 80 percent of patients when used correctly. It is possible that braces will need to be worn up to 24 hours each day until the child has reached full growth.
Neurosurgery for Scoliosis
In children with a curve greater than 40 percent as well as in adults with scoliosis, neurosurgery is required to correct spinal curves. Neurosurgery is the medical term for any surgery of the brain, spine, or nervous system. At Hunt Spine, your Los Angeles neurosurgeon will recommend the best surgical solution for each case.
Depending on the severity of the spinal curvature, correction may require spinal surgery using multiple pins which connect to a rod inserted into the spinal column straightening the curve of the spine. Correcting these curvatures at an early age can help to prevent progression, pain, or complications as your child moves into adulthood. Most commonly in adults, vertebral fusion is recommended allowing for greater range of motion and less pain upon completion.
Treat Scoliosis at Hunt Spine
If you think you or your child might have scoliosis, or you have already been diagnosed with the condition, contact our Los Angeles neurosurgeon to schedule a consultation. Our goal at Hunt Spine is to create a comprehensive plan that will best treat the specifics of your scoliosis, and allow you to live a long, healthy, pain-free life.