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Treatment For Adult Scoliosis in New Jersey

Doctor and Patient Examining X-Ray of Adult ScoliosisSCOLIOSIS CAN BE a particularly debilitating condition for adults. Though there are several varieties, most usually symptoms include pain in the leg, hip or back as a result of an unusual curvature of the spine. At Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics, our team includes renowned scoliosis surgeons, pain management doctors, and physical therapists which provides a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each individual patient.

What is Scoliosis

is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine. When viewed from the front or back, a normal spine forms a straight line from the top of the neck, down to the bottom of the back. However, in scoliosis, the spine may curve to the left or the right side. This most commonly occurs in either the middle of the back (thoracic spine) or the lower part of the back (lumbar spine), and is detected and confirmed by an x-ray of the chest or an incidental finding on CT scan. About 2-3% of the general population suffers from some degree of scoliosis, and most cases are mild, requiring no treatment. There are two main types of scoliosis:

  • Idiopathic Scoliosis is seen early in life, typically during growth spurts in children and adolescents. Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown.  Often scoliosis is congenital.  Pediatricians screen for scoliosis during regular checkups by examining the straightness of the child’s spine both when standing up as well as when touching their toes while keeping their legs straight.  If any curvature is detected, then an x-ray of the spine is recommended so as to confirm the degree of curvature
  • Degenerative Scoliosis occurs in adults as a result of wear-and-tear, and arthritis of the spine. As the joints and ligaments of the spine degenerate, they may not hold the proper alignment of vertebral bodies, resulting in abnormal curvature. Sometimes, degenerative scoliosis in an adult represents worsening of a previously mild, idiopathic scoliosis from childhood.
  • Neuromuscular Scoliosis is a C shaped curvature of the spine due to a neuropathic condition that causes the lack of development in certain muscle groups.  The resulting disproportionate muscle growth leads to asymmetrical skeletal growth including the vertebral bone of the spine.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

While scoliosis can cause back pain, hip pain, or even leg pain, the severity of the condition is determined by the degree of curvature. Patients with a greater curvature of their spine will often have pain in multiple body parts and an intolerance to exercise because of pain or difficulty breathing. Signs of scoliosis can be evident before the onset of pain and would warrant seeking medical advice from a CNSO scoliosis surgeon. Signs include:

  • Appearance of body leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders or hips
  • One leg seemingly longer than the other
  • Elevation of waist or rib cage on one side
  • Asymmetrical muscle bulk along the spine
  • Gait disturbance or abnormal walking pattern

Severe scoliotic deformities can interfere with the proper functioning of internal organs, such as the lungs and heart.  Patients may experience shortness of breath and chest pain if the curvature of the spine is severe enough to encroach upon the lungs thereby restricting expansion and/or compressing the heart. It is important to see a doctor when experience these symptoms so that radiographic images can be used to confirm the diagnosis of scoliosis. In some cases, a diagnosis of severe scoliosis is indicative that corrective scoliosis surgery is required.

Risk Factors of Scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis is by far the most common type and can begin in teenagers around the onset of puberty or can occur in adults with aging. Females have a higher risk of developing scoliosis in their teen years. In older adults, physical deconditioning can allow for the earlier development of arthritis which can increase the risk of developing degenerative scoliosis.

Patients with neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and other paralytic conditions can also be at an increased risk for the development of scoliosis.

Complications of Scoliosis

Scoliosis can lead to the following possible complications:

  • Back pain, intolerance of exercise
  • Noticeable physical changes in the appearance of the shoulder, back, hips or when walking
  • Limitations of heart and lung function if severe scoliosis decreases the space in which those organs use to work properly causing shortness of breath.

Treatment of Scoliosis

Often, scoliosis requires little or no treatment. Treatment options for mild to moderate cases include bracing and/or a combination of physical therapy, core abdominal strengthening, and nerve injections along with maintaining a healthy weight help prevent progression of deformity. Severe cases, or those cases in which heart or lung function is compromised, often require deformity correction surgery, or scoliosis surgery, in which the curved spine is straightened and secured in its new position with titanium screws and rods. Spinal fusion is an option if the curvature has reached 45 degrees by adulthood and continues to progress.

Let Our New Jersey Scoliosis Surgeons Help

At Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics, our surgeons each have over 10 years of experience and have been recognized as the best doctors for spine surgery as per the “Top Doc” Award since 2013. In addition to neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons, CNSO offers comprehensive care including physical therapy for any ailment to pain control and management experts for any nerve or musculoskeletal pain. Each of CNSO six locations is staffed with Pain Management doctors, spine surgeons and brain surgeons. Physical therapy teams are at the Jersey City, Wayne, and Paramus locations. Contact the compassionate CNSO staff today and schedule your appointment.

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