This is the second, and final, part of our series on scoliosis. The first blog focused on the causes, signs and symptoms of scoliosis. Today, we're looking at what can be done if scoliosis is suspected.
The first thing you should do is have a diagnostic exam performed by a neurosurgeon to determine the extent of the curvature. The neurosurgeon will order either an X-ray, an MRI or a CT scan. Once the results are back from imaging, the curve will be measured to determine the degree of the curve. A curve that is greater than 25 to 30 degrees is considered significant and curves exceeding 45 to 50 degrees are even more severe.
In the majority of cases, the spinal curve is mild, so treatment other than observation is typically not required. There are a range of treatment options available, depending on your age, the severity of the curve and other factors, such as your physical condition. In most situations non-surgical treatments are typically the first form of treatment.
Observation is expected for those who have a moderate size curve (40 to 45 degrees), those who have stopped growing and for those with mild symptoms. In some situations, the curve will stop worsening, but it is still essential to have routine examinations to ensure the curve is not interfering with heart or lung activity.
Depending on the degree of the curve, your neurosurgeon may recommend you wear a brace. A brace usually is recommended for children who have a slight to moderate curve (25 to 45 degrees) to prevent the curve from worsening as they grow.
Surgery is an option that is typically used to correct a curve that is greater than 45-50 degrees or for curvature of the spine that did not respond to bracing. The primary goal of scoliosis surgery is to prevent the curve from worsening and/or to correct the spinal deformity. Some of the common factors that influence a recommendation for surgery may include:
- The area of the spine involved
- Severity of the scoliosis
- Pain (more common in adults)
- Personal factors
- Remaining growth of the child
- An increased or decreased kyphosis (rounding of the back)
Can the Curve Worsen Without Treatment?
There are typically two reasons why a curve may worsen without treatment. Children who are younger than 10 years of age and have a curve that is greater than 35 degrees often experience worsening curvature as they age. Adults who have a curve that is greater than 50 degrees may worsen over time as well, however, this is rare because the curve tends to stop worsening when the body stops growing.
Along with bracing and surgery, there are a number of things that can be done to help cope with scoliosis. For example, physical therapy may help to improve the look and shape of the body by helping you stand straighter. Physical therapy may also be beneficial for relieving back pain and improving breathing.
Yoga may help improve muscles through stretching and the breathing exercises associated with meditation and yoga may relieve back pain as well as improve breathing. Massage therapy may help to reduce the tension in your muscles, which will be beneficial for relieving mild back pain associated with back pain in adults.
Contact Capital City Neurosurgery to schedule an appointment for an exam to determine which type of scoliosis treatment is best suited for you.