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Scoliosis Surgery

    What Is Scoliosis?


    When you have an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine that sort of looks like the letter C or the letter S, you likely have scoliosis. This condition is often diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, but in some people, it’s not apparent until adulthood. Sometimes, a spinal curve that started in the teen years worsens in adulthood. As many as two to three percent of the population in the United States have scoliosis.

    A scoliosis specialist is the best medical professional to consult if you think you may have scoliosis or any other type of abnormality in the spine. Doctors at Premier Brain & Spine’s advanced spine surgery center are New Jersey’s top spine specialists.

    What Are the Signs of Scoliosis?

    IThe spinal curve of scoliosis can be as small as 10 degrees or more than 50 degrees. Individuals in the early stages of scoliosis with a curve of 20 degrees or less may not have any discomfort.

    You must watch for signs that include:

    • Uneven hips or shoulders
    • One or both shoulder blades stick out
    • The spine curves to one side
    • The pelvis is tilted
    • The waistline appears uneven
    • The head isn’t centered
    • Shoulder pain
    • Backache

    When scoliosis is severe, it can be disabling. A serious spinal curve can make it hard for the lungs to function properly because of reduced space within the chest. If spinal curves in childhood are large and untreated, it can lead to chronic back pain in adulthood.

    Scoliosis may not be the only cause of back pain even when there’s a noticeable curvature. It’s sometimes accompanied by other conditions, such as spondylolisthesis, a spinal tumor or a herniated disc. The doctors at Premier Brain & Spine provide a thorough examination and imaging tests to come up with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for any source of back pain, including scoliosis.

    What Causes Scoliosis?

    Scoliosis isn’t caused by carrying heavy backpacks or poor posture. In most cases, there is no known cause, which is called idiopathic scoliosis.

    Other causes and types of scoliosis include:

    • Congenital. This type of scoliosis is present at birth and is the result of the spine not forming properly during fetal development.
    • Degenerative. This is adult-onset scoliosis. It results from the deterioration of joints in the spine.
    • Neuromuscular. Neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy can lead to muscle problems in your back that can affect the curvature of your spine.
    • Syndromic. This form of scoliosis develops as the result of medical conditions, such as connective tissue disorders, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy.

    Structural problems such as one leg being longer than the other can lead to spinal curvature. Mild scoliosis develops in boys and girls at about the same rate, but the risk of a worsening curve is higher in females. There does seem to be a link to heredity because scoliosis sometimes runs in families.

    Is There a Difference Between Childhood Scoliosis and Adult Scoliosis?


    Scoliosis can affect people of all ages. Adolescents and children are more likely to be diagnosed with scoliosis than adults, and idiopathic scoliosis typically begins to develop in late childhood or the early teen years. Scoliosis diagnosed in adulthood is sometimes childhood scoliosis that went undetected. Some differences between the two include:

    • Childhood scoliosis. Scoliosis diagnosed in childhood it often occurs on the thoracic spine or rib cage area.
    • Adult scoliosis. In adult scoliosis, the curve is discovered after complete skeletal growth. Age-related degeneration of the spine may cause the spine to curve. Pain is usually in the lumbar spine, which is the lower back.

    Degenerative scoliosis begins in adulthood, usually in people over the age of 65. As part of the aging process, degeneration in discs can lead to narrowing of the spaces within the spine, which is known as spinal stenosis.

    When Should I See a Doctor?

    For children and adolescents, parents should consult a doctor if they notice signs of spinal curvature or back pain in their children.

    Adults should see a spine specialist if you notice symptoms that include:

    • Pain and stiffness in your back or legs
    • Sciatica
    • Balance problems
    • Height loss
    • Noticeable change in the symmetry of your shoulders

    Pressure on the nerves of your spine may lead to leg numbness or weakness. It may also lead to problems with your bowels or bladder. Your symptoms may signify different problems with your back or spine, so seek an evaluation by specialists experienced in a wide range of back problems at your NJ spine pain center.

    How Does My Scoliosis Doctor Choose the Best Treatment Approach?

    Most people with scoliosis have the mild form of this disorder, and many cases of scoliosis don’t require treatment. Your NJ orthopedic doctor may recommend waiting to see if the curve progresses over time with evaluations done every few months.

    To decide on the best treatment approach, your spine specialist considers:

    • Where the curve is
    • How big the curve is
    • The cause of your scoliosis
    • Whether the spine is still growing
    • Noticeable change in the symmetry of your shoulders

    In growing children with idiopathic scoliosis, bracing is often the best non-surgical form of treatment to prevent the curve from getting worse. Braces are usually worn between 13 and 16 hours a day and may be discontinued when there are no more changes in height.

    How Can Adults Get Scoliosis Pain Relief?

    Scoliosis treatment for adults is geared more toward relieving symptoms than fixing the curve. This condition can usually be treated using conservative non-surgical methods.

    Your treatment plan may include:

    • Over-the-counter pain relievers
    • Exercises to strengthen the back and core muscles
    • Low-impact activities like swimming
    • Physical therapy
    • Injections, such as nerve blocks or epidural steroid injections

    Ice and heat reduce inflammation and improve circulation. If you smoke, you should quit, as smoking has been shown to speed up the process of degeneration.

    Will I Need Scoliosis Surgery?

    Adults and children with severe curvatures may need spine surgery. When conservative methods don’t relieve back pain and your quality of life is compromised by disabling pain, spinal imbalance or reduced mobility, your doctor may recommend scoliosis surgery at your NJ advanced spine surgery center.

    Types of scoliosis surgery for adults include:

    • Decompression surgery. This involves removing part of a vertebra to relieve pressure on the spine or a nerve.
    • Spinal fusion. This type of surgery may be done along with decompression surgery to stabilize the spine by fusing bones together.

    If you had scoliosis surgery as a child, but the severity of your symptoms have progressed, your NJ orthopedist may recommend revision surgery. This may involve one or more procedures.

    ★★★★★ Thank you very much!

    Dr. Greenberg is one of the most knowledgeable spine surgeons I’ve ever met. He is professional, knowledgeable, and straight to the point, but not in a bad way. I appreciate a doctor who is clear on what’s wrong and lets me know exactly what I need to do to fix it. He was responsive throughout the process and made sure I felt at ease during every step.

    Francis Kvintus

    What Happens if I Don’t Get Scoliosis Treatment?

    If your spinal curve is less than 20 degrees, you may not experience severe symptoms. The larger the curve, the more likely that untreated scoliosis may lead to problems such as nerve damage, humpback, spinal rigidity or spinal instability. Regardless of the severity of your spinal curve, you should speak to a spine specialist for evaluation and to find out if you need treatment for your scoliosis.

    Premier Brain & Spine offers a comprehensive range of solutions for those who are living with back pain or deformities. They have successfully diagnosed and treated patients with a wide range of spine conditions including:

    For more information on scoliosis treatment options or to schedule a face-to-face consultation with one of our spine experts, call us at (866) 590-0601. You can also visit our neurosurgical center to find out why so many of our patients recognize us as the best orthopedic doctors in New York and New Jersey for effectively treating sideways curvature of the spine.

    Updated on Nov 25, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

    Premier Brain & Spine
    10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
    Edison, NJ 08837
    (732) 258-0190