A condition many tend to associate with children or teens, scoliosis is, in fact a condition which can impact individuals of all ages. While spines are almost always characterized by some degree of natural curvature, there are certain individuals who have more pronounced curves which can actually cause the spine to twist.
Adult patients with this type of presentation are frequently diagnosed with either idiopathic scoliosis or degenerative scoliosis, and their symptoms of pain, numbness, stiffness, cramping, and fatigue can become severe.
Fortunately, effective treatments for these types of spinal injuries do exist, including minimally invasive surgical options designed to provide maximum relief with minimal downtime. Growing numbers of patients are turning to such procedures as a means to reclaim freedom of movement and resume the active lifestyles they desire.
Degenerative Scoliosis in Adults
Most everyone is familiar with adolescent scoliosis, a condition which begins to appear between the ages of 10 to 18. However, not as many are aware of adult variations of scoliosis, which are typically categorized as idiopathic or degenerative in nature. Idiopathic adult scoliosis is essentially the continuation of adolescent scoliosis, in which spine curvature continues to progress with the passage of years.
By contrast, degenerative, or adult onset scoliosis is marked by a sideways curvature that results from degeneration of the spine’s facet joints. Generally diagnosed in individuals aged 65 an older, this affliction is often notable for the “C” shaped curve found in the lumbar region of the spine.
Key Symptoms of Degenerative Adult Scoliosis
The pain attributable to degenerative scoliosis is caused by degradation of the facet joints, a process similar to that observed in patients with spinal osteoarthritis. As the protective cartilage erodes, inflammation and irritation of the joints by the vertebral bones can develop. Notable symptoms of the degenerative form of this condition include:
- Gradual onset of pain, exacerbated by physical activity
- Pain at its most serious during the morning hours, followed by improvement, followed by worsening toward day’s end
- Patient preference for sitting rather than walking or standing
- Pain in one or both legs when in use
The resulting discomfort can be profound and can significantly limit mobility and reduce quality of life. Thus, more and more scoliosis patients are seeking innovative treatments and surgical solutions.
Available Treatment Options
For patients with milder symptoms, treatment options may include ongoing medical observation, bracing, flexibility exercises, physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medication, and nerve block or epidural injections.
However, for individuals who do not achieve an acceptable degree of relief from more conservative methods, a need for surgical intervention is often indicated. Scoliosis surgery is intended to alleviate pain, decompress spinal nerves, restore balance to the spine, and secure proper alignment for the long term.
To achieve these objectives, spinal fusion will be performed so that the vertebrae within the curvature can be brought together into corrected alignment. Natural bone grafting or synthetic material is placed in the space between the affected vertebrae, which are realigned and then stabilized so that healing can occur.
Though this type of procedure can be performed in a traditional, open manner involving surgical retraction of tissue and muscle, newer, minimally invasive options have emerged to become the favored option of many patients.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Utilizing endoscopic technology, minimally invasive scoliosis surgery involves a series of tiny incisions instead of a single, longer one. The benefits of such a strategy over traditional operations are many, such as:
- Reduced surgical blood loss
- Reduction in post-operative pain
- Lower risk of infection
- Less noticeable scarring
- Limited hospitalization period
- Shorter recovery period
- Faster resumption of normal activities
Real Solutions for Scoliosis Patients
Thanks to dramatic advances in minimally invasive spine surgery, growing numbers of those suffering from degenerative and other forms of scoliosis are reaping the incredible benefits of such procedures. To learn more about your pain relief and mobility options, contact us today.