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What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an exaggerated side-to-side curvature of the spine. This condition usually affects children during growth spurts, but it can also affect adults due to the spinal degeneration that often occurs along with the natural aging process. In adults, the condition is referred to as degenerative scoliosis.

What does it feel like to have scoliosis?

The symptoms of scoliosis can vary widely. Some people are aware of the condition only because it is visually apparent, which is often the case in children. When discomfort occurs, it can range from mild to debilitating. Degenerative scoliosis symptoms may take the form of:

  • Back pain that worsens when the body is upright and improves when the body is prone
  • Electric shock-like sensations in one or both legs
  • Numbness in one or both legs
  • Muscle weakness in one or both legs

In many cases, the discomfort is more pronounced in the morning, then gradually improves with activity and worsens again over the course of the day.

How is scoliosis treated?

In children, the focus of scoliosis treatment is usually to prevent moderate-to-severe spinal curvature from worsening. A back brace may be recommended for this purpose. Typically, a child would wear a brace until his or her bones stop growing.

In adults, the focus of scoliosis treatment is usually to address the degenerative changes that have caused the spinal curvature, rather than to correct the curvature itself. Nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy, strengthening and stretching exercises and pain management may provide effective relief from mild-to-moderate symptoms. If degenerative scoliosis has resulted in spinal stenosis (narrowing), surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or an affected nerve root. To create space for compressed nerves, a surgeon may perform a laminectomy to remove a portion of the lamina (the bone that forms the “roof” over the spinal canal). In some cases, a surgeon may also perform a spinal fusion to help stabilize the spinal column.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, we offer a full spectrum of scoliosis treatments. If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis, you can consult with our neck and back pain specialists to learn about your options for pain relief. We can recommend a customized treatment plan to help you achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life.

To request an appointment, contact Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, today.