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What is Scoliosis?

Each person has natural curves in their spine. One of the easiest curves to spot is the curve that causes the lower back to sway inward when viewing from the side.  These curves serve a number of functions, including absorbing shock, promoting mobility and shaping shoulders.  When viewing from the front or the back, the spine should be straight.  In some people, however, the spine abnormally curves sideways and may rotate, forming an “S” shape.  In some individuals this “S” may be visible when bending forward or standing.  In many, however, the curvature is only visible on X-ray.   While some of these abnormalities in posture (e.g. tilted shoulders and hips and/or uneven protruding shoulder blades) can be caused by abnormal curves; this is not simply a problem of “poor posture”.   A person cannot exercise the curves out or try to sit or stand straighter. 

This condition of abnormal curvature of the spine is called “scoliosis”.

What causes Scoliosis?

There are a number of potential causes of scoliosis, but in most cases, an exact cause is not known, which physicians will call “idiopathic scoliosis”. Other conditions known to cause abnormal curvature of the spine include genetic conditions and congenital abnormalities (meaning “present at birth”), among others.

Adolescent girls are most often diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis.

Treatment for Scoliosis – Common Options

Option 1: Observation

Put simply this option means “do nothing for now but keep watching”.   When the patient is only suffering from a small abnormal curve, especially while they are still growing, many specialists will choose to leave the condition alone, monitoring periodically for changes.    The reason is that in many cases the condition will likely not worsen and may not necessitate any treatment.  In some cases, the medical scoliosis specialist may decide to refer the patient to some physical therapy.

Option 2: Bracing

In certain condition, typically limited to growing children, the specialist may prescribe some corrective bracing with the mindset of preventing further adverse progression of the scoliosis.

Option 3: Surgical Treatment

Surgery is typically only recommended in cases that involve larger scoliosis, and are typically limited to adolescent and adult patients. In rare cases, most commonly when a curve is causing an undesirable appearance for the patient, surgery may be performed for smaller curves.   In cases where smaller curves are persistently symptomatic (i.e. generating constant pain and/or discomfort), surgery may be recommended.  The orthopedic surgical correction of scoliosis is typically achieved by the surgical implantation of rods and devices into the spine, which correct the spine curvature.

If you are a Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa or Arizona resident with Scoliosis and you are seeking an orthopedic scoliosis surgeon specialist.  Please feel free to contact us today for your appointment.