A Patient’s Guide to Scoliosis

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Scoliosis is a common deformity of the spine that causes it to curve sideways rather than grow vertically straight. There are many treatment options for scoliosis, ranging from bracing and physical therapy to surgical correction of the spine in more extreme cases. Your orthopaedic doctor can help you understand more about your spine and which treatments will be best for your scoliosis.

What Causes Scoliosis?

80-85% of scoliosis cases have no known cause for abnormal spinal curvature. However, scoliosis is inheritable, and in the remaining 15-20% of cases, it is often a congenital condition. Excessive curvature of the spine may also arise as a complication of any disease or disorder that affects the musculoskeletal system, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.

What Complications Arise from Scoliosis?

Mild scoliosis does not affect your ability to live, work, or enjoy leisure activities. More severe spinal curves greater than 50-60 degrees can increase your risk for chronic lower back pain. Extreme curves that are not corrected may cause visible deformity of the back later in life. Discrepancies in the length of your legs can make some activities difficult; your orthopaedic doctor can prescribe a shoe lift to provide more stable stature. Scoliosis does not affect the ability to bear children and does not increase your risk for osteoporosis.

What Treatments Are Available?

Scoliosis will not resolve without treatment, and may become progressively worse if not addressed. Bracing prevents worsening of spinal curvature and corrects posture for more comfortable movement. Mild curves of less than 20 degrees often do not require treatment unless they worsen. Physical therapy cannot sure scoliosis, but may be helpful in maintaining flexibility and promoting good posture. Extreme curvature of the spine can be corrected surgically via a process known as spinal fusion, which also prevents further worsening of scoliosis.

If you have questions or concerns about scoliosis, contact a spine specialist at Suburban Orthopaedics by calling (630) 372-1100. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthopaedic care in Bartlett. Please visit our website to read more about your spine and maintaining a healthy back.

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