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Scoliosis

Abnormal curvature of the spine is called scoliosis. While some forms of scoliosis are congenital, meaning they were present at birth, the overwhelming majority of cases develop during adolescence, mostly in girls. While this can be concerning to parents, in many cases drastic measures are not needed to correct the problem.

Another form of scoliosis, called degenerative scoliosis, occurs in adults due to degeneration of the spine by spinal arthritis and/or disc damage.

Adolescent scoliosis

 

Most cases of non-degenerative scoliosis develop during adolescence for unknown reasons (the medical term for this is idiopathic), although the condition does appear to have a genetic component. An abnormal curvature may be suspected by your child’s pediatrician during a routine physical (when your child bends forward, the telltale “s” or “c” shape becomes visible). In mild cases, it may only be possible to detect scoliosis on an X-ray.

As a father himself, Dr. Baig is passionate about caring for his young scoliosis patients. Your son or daughter will be in the very best hands.

Treatment for adolescent scoliosis

 

Wait and see. Patients with only a mild curvature who are still growing may not require any treatment at all. Dr. Baig will simply monitor the teen over time to see if the problem worsens. Physical therapy may be recommended. Mild scoliosis generally does not cause pain.

Brace. If Dr. Baig feels it is necessary, he will recommend a growing child with scoliosis wear a corrective brace. The brace won’t correct the curve that is already there, but it can keep it from getting worse until the patient stops growing.

Surgery. Sometimes the abnormal curve continues to worsen over time, even into adulthood, or begins to cause pain and other symptoms. Dr. Baig will only recommend surgery in the most severe cases of idiopathic scoliosis. The goal of surgery is to correct the curvature and maintain the spine in a new, normal position. Whenever possible, Dr. Baig will perform the surgery endoscopically.

In rare cases, if the curvature is creating an undesirable appearance for the patient and the patients requests it, Dr. Baig may perform surgery to correct a smaller curve.

It is important to know that while kids and teens can appear to have poor posture at times, this is very different from the medical condition scoliosis. Sitting or standing straighter will not cure scoliosis, and poor posture will not cause scoliosis.

Adult degenerative scoliosis

 

Adult degenerative scoliosis occurs when degeneration of the spine begins to affect its natural curvature. It is most common in the lumbar (lower) spine as a result of disc degeneration and spinal stenosis and may be accompanied by symptoms such as pain, numbness and tingling or shooting pain down the leg (sciatica).

 

Treatment for degenerative scoliosis

 

Wait and see. For many patients without debilitating symptoms, the best approach is to simply monitor the condition. Pain medication can help with symptoms. Physical therapy designed to strengthen abdominal and back muscles can help provide support to the failing spine.

Braces. Braces may be worn for short-term pain relief in adults. Long term use is not recommended as it can weaken core muscles.

Injections. Epidural and nerve block injections can help with pain.

Surgery.

The goal of spine surgery for scoliosis is to restore balance to the spine, reduce pain by decompressing spinal nerves, and correct alignment through fusing and stabilizing the vertebrae.

Dr. Baig will only recommend surgery for degenerative scoliosis in the most serious cases where more conservative measures have not worked or where the spinal curvature is causing severe pain and severely diminished quality of life. The surgical techniques used vary depending on the needs of each patient. Dr. Baig uses endoscopic and minimally invasive surgical procedures whenever possible.