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Learn about the scoliosis diagnosis process and treatment options from the experts at Laser Spine Institute’s Scottsdale surgery center

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine that affects millions of Americans. While it can be present in newborns because of genetic factors that cause the abnormal development of the spine in the womb, it can also develop later in life as a result of degeneration. Though a scoliosis diagnosis can be scary, there are effective treatment options available for this condition.

Defining scoliosis

Scoliosis is any abnormal curvature present in the spine. It can occur in the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine, and can appear as a “C” or “S” shape. If the curvature is thought to be temporary it is “nonstructural,” and if it is permanent it is referred to as “structural.”

How is scoliosis diagnosed?

If you believe you might be suffering from degenerative scoliosis, the first step is to see a physician who can make an accurate diagnosis. At the examination, your physician will likely review you medical history and perform a physical exam that includes tests that are used specifically to help identify a curve in the spine. Finally, your physician will send you for a diagnostic imaging test (X-ray or MRI) to determine the full extent of your scoliosis.

How does degenerative scoliosis develop in adults?

Also referred to as adult-onset scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis can develop when the natural wear and tear that the spine endures through the years causes a degenerative spinal condition such as degenerative disc disease or spinal osteoarthritis. Generally speaking, if important structures in the spine begin to deteriorate, it’s possible for the vertebrae to move out of place, resulting in an abnormal curvature.

How to recognize the symptoms

Scoliosis can often be asymptomatic, though symptoms such as localized pain that comes on gradually and worsens over time, radiating pain, numbness, muscle weakness and tingling can develop if the abnormal curvature of the spine results in pressure being put on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root. The location along the spine that is being affected will also have a bearing on the area of the body where the symptoms appear. The spinal curvature may be visible, as well, as patients may have uneven shoulders or one hip that’s higher than the other.

Understanding your treatment options

There are many conservative treatment options that may help you find relief from the symptoms of scoliosis. Your physician may suggest a combination of pain medications, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and stretching exercises to see if your symptoms improve. Additionally, lifestyle changes, such as losing excess weight, can reduce the strain being placed on your spine and help reduce scoliosis symptoms.

Scoliosis surgery at Laser Spine Institute

In cases where nonsurgical treatments don’t produce the desired results, surgery may be the best option to consider. Laser Spine Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, performs minimally invasive procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures.^

Contact us today to find out if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery by asking for your no-cost MRI review.*