In the United States, scoliosis screening is a requirement for every school physical examination. Severe cases can be identified by a doctor. It should be confirmed by an x-ray. Also, as we age, there may be rotational shifts in the spine that can only detected by x-ray, Cat Scan, or MRI. When looking at the imaging, the curvature is very apparent. After receiving a scoliosis diagnosis, many questions may arise. While there are many articles about scoliosis on the internet, they are often written by non-medical personal and can miss the correct process to determine the best treatment for the optimum outcome given a specific patient situation. Thus, the best resource available for advice on scoliosis treatment is still a neurosurgeon specializing is complex spine or an orthopedic spine surgeon. A consultation with these specialists will involve their reviewing images with the patient, answering all of the patient’s prepared questions as well as any new questions that the appointment provokes. A list of the most urgent concerns can help ensure the patient feels informed about their condition and what to expect going forward. The team of expert neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics has a well deserved reputation for successfully treating complex scoliosis cases. Here are some of the questions patients should ask during their appointment.
Scoliosis is a condition characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine. It commonly occurs in either the thoracic spine (middle of the back) or the lumbar region (lower part of the back). The cause can be unknown, congenital, secondary to trauma, nerve damage, or spinal aging. The first step is to learn about your diagnosis and how it could affect your overall well-being if you do versus if you do not have it corrected.
What type of scoliosis do I have?
Understanding your condition can help bring clarity while managing symptoms and seeking different treatment methods. There are three main types of scoliosis:
- Degenerative scoliosis: Found in adults, degenerative scoliosis occurs as a result of spinal arthritis and everyday wear on the body. As the joints and ligaments within the spine degenerate, this causes improper spinal alignment and curvature.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: Resulting from a neuropathic condition, this neuromuscular scoliosis presents as a C-shaped spinal curvature. The lack of ability to control certain muscle groups leads to this asymmetrical skeletal growth along the vertebrae.
- Idiopathic scoliosis: This condition is typically diagnosed early in life. While often congenital, the term “idiopathic” signifies that there is no known cause for this particular type of scoliosis commonly found in children and adolescents.
Which scoliosis symptoms should I expect?
Each patient has different experiences unique to their condition. However, a doctor can provide information about the symptoms likely to present in a particular case. Some of the symptoms associated with scoliosis may include:
- Abnormal gait or walking pattern
- Asymmetrical muscular structure along the spine
- Uneven shoulders and hips
- Chest pain and/or shortness of breath
- Back pain
- And more…
Will my scoliosis worsen with age?
While it’s true that scoliosis most often requires little or no treatment, every patient is different. Treatment options for mild to moderate cases are commonly non-invasive, while others may require surgery either immediately is severe, or later in life if it becomes painful or problematic. Knowing how to care for yourself and avoiding risky behavior that is unique to your condition, can help you avoid surgery or if eventually necessary prepare for it.
Which treatments can help me manage my condition?
After learning more about the level of severity of your scoliosis, you should learn which treatments are appropriate for your current condition. There are several treatment options to help prevent the progression of this spinal deformity. But after a certain stage of progression, surgical procedures to correct the alignment of the spine are necessary. The range of treatment options alone or in combination include:
Have you seen scoliosis cases like mine in the past?
Getting to know the surgeon is just as important for patients as learning about a given condition. Knowing you’re in expert hands can help ease your concerns. Ask the surgeon about other cases he or she has performed and how many, similar in severity or worse, they routinely complete each year. Do not hesitate to get a second opinion or even a third. Ask if you can speak with other patients who have already had a similar surgery by the same neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon.
Seek Help from Our Scoliosis Experts
Asking your questions can provide greater peace of mind. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with scoliosis or suspect scoliosis, request an appointment at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics to learn more about your condition. CNSO neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons work together during each case along with physical medicine experts called physiatrists. Ask the CNSO doctors about their experience treating scoliosis both with and without surgery in each of the CNSO offices and hospitals in Northern New Jersey.