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What is Adult Degenerative Scoliosis?

Adult degenerative scoliosis is characterized by side to side or lateral bending of the spine in adults. Degenerative scoliosis can involve either the mid-back and/or lower back region of the spine.

Causes of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

A host of different factors can alter the architecture of the spine and cause degenerative scoliosis. The major causes among those responsible for the development of degenerative scoliosis include:

  • Untreated childhood scoliosis
  • Inherent, age-related changes occurring in the body
  • Certain diseases affecting the spine

Symptoms of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

  • Pain is the predominant symptom in patients suffering from degenerative scoliosis. Compression of the spinal nerve root can result in lower limb weakness along with numbness or tingling sensation. This may hamper coordination and balance with a difficulty in movement, standing or sitting.
  • Occasionally, compression of the lower spinal nerves can also lead to difficulty in urination and defecation. This requires immediate medical care.
  • Degenerative scoliosis can lead to physical deformities such as humpback, prominence of the rib, altered gait, tilting of the trunk to one side and spinal instability and rigidity.

Diagnosis of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Spine surgeons are well experienced in managing back problems. In case of any disorder affecting the spine, contact a specialist immediately as the right diagnosis is crucial for devising an effective treatment plan.

A diagnosis of adult degenerative scoliosis involves:

  • A detailed medical and family history of the patient
  • Neurological examination
  • Testing of reflexes to evaluate muscle weakness, sensitivity, and other signs of neurological injury
  • Physical examination to evaluate movements at the spine and leg length measurements
  • Diagnostic imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI scans, and myelography, may also be used to improve the accuracy of diagnosis.

What are the Treatment Options?

In some patients, simple lifestyle modifications such as improved nutrition, smoking cessation, and regular exercise may be sufficient for the management of scoliosis. A few patients may respond to non-surgical methods such as analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications, braces, spinal injections, and physical therapy.

Surgery is recommended for patients who fail to respond to non-surgical treatment or the curvature progress and becomes greater than 45-degrees or is a cause of cardiopulmonary complications.

In such patients, minimally invasive spine surgery can be performed. In some cases, spinal stabilization and fusion are employed to prevent the progression of the disease.

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