Somewhere between six and nine million people in the United States have scoliosis, which is a sideways curve in the spine. The most common age of diagnosis is between 10-15 years. Although boys and girls are equally diagnosed with scoliosis, girls are far more likely to develop a curvature that requires treatment.
At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates in Independence, Ohio, our team of experts treat a number of patients with scoliosis. The most appropriate treatment depends on the patient’s specific situation, and our team considers a plethora of factors in recommending treatment options.
Types of scoliosis
The majority of scoliosis cases, about 80%, are idiopathic, which means there’s no known or identifiable cause. Your doctor classifies your case as idiopathic after ruling out potential causes. Most cases of idiopathic scoliosis are diagnosed during adolescence.
Congenital scoliosis is present at birth and is caused by a deformity in the spine. The location and type of deformity determine the extent of the curvature. Since the deformity is there from birth, this type of scoliosis is usually diagnosed earlier than idiopathic scoliosis.
Neuromuscular scoliosis is associated with a muscular or neurological disorder such as cerebral palsy. Often requiring surgical intervention, neuromuscular scoliosis tends to develop much more rapidly than the other types.
Adults who have scoliosis tend to fall into specific categories. They may have had surgery to correct scoliosis when they were younger, or they may have had scoliosis but were never treated. Finally, adults can develop a condition called degenerative scoliosis, which is often associated with spinal stenosis.
Considerations in determining treatment
When your doctor suggests a treatment approach, they have taken several factors into account. For example, your age and the maturity of your spine is an important factor. In many cases, the curvature of the spine never progresses to a point that requires treatment.
The location of the curve also makes a difference in deciding on appropriate treatment. Curves that are in the middle of the spine are more likely to progress and require treatment than those that are at the top or the bottom of the spine.
Whether or not your scoliosis is associated with another condition or not makes a difference, as well. For example, in degenerative scoliosis, the curvature is usually minor and doesn’t require treatment, whereas neuromuscular scoliosis can progress very quickly and may require surgery.
Other factors, such as your overall health, the impact of the curvature on your life, and your medical history, among others, are important to your specific situation and are points of consideration with your doctor.
Treatments for scoliosis
There are three treatments for scoliosis. The first is the most common, and it is observation and monitoring. Since scoliosis often doesn’t progress, the best approach may be for your doctor to see you regularly, measure the curve, and discuss your symptoms with you. If the curve doesn’t interfere with your activities, no treatment is necessary.
The second common treatment is bracing. Bracing is only effective in people who are still growing. It’s generally recommended for children who are growing and who have a curve that’s 20-40 degrees. The goal of bracing is to stop the progression, and it’s effective about 80% of the time when you fully comply with your doctor’s instruction.
Finally, surgical intervention may be necessary in some cases, such as when your curve is more than 40 degrees and appears to be progressing. The goal is to stop the progression as well as correct the deformity.
In adults, surgery may be recommended if your curve is more than 50 degrees, if it’s associated with spinal stenosis and the two conditions are treated at the same time, or if you had surgery to treat scoliosis when you were younger and need revision.
Just like a snowflake, your spine is unique, and your particular set of circumstances requires analysis and consideration. At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates, our team provides treatment recommendations only after a careful evaluation and examination. You can rest assured that whatever we recommend is based on your specific situation.
If you’d like to learn more about the treatments for scoliosis, book an appointment today. You can call us at 234-430-0079 to schedule. We’ll be happy to hear from you.