Scoliosis refers to the development of a sideways or “S”-shaped curve in the spine. While this disorder commonly occurs in children and adolescents as idiopathic scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis tends to occur in some people as they get older.
Degenerative scoliosis can signify a serious degenerative spinal disorder, so a proper diagnosis is essential to effective treatment. Let’s talk about what scoliosis is and who can help you if you are suffering back pain or problems with your back.
Idiopathic vs. Degenerative Scoliosis
Idiopathic scoliosis tends to occur in younger people, although it is possible to receive this diagnosis as an adult. It also tends to manifest in the thoracic spine (mid-back). In contrast, degenerative scoliosis occurs more commonly in older adults and tends to affect the lumbar section, which is the lower back.
Whereas idiopathic scoliosis is believed to be an inherited condition, degenerative scoliosis comes from progressive age-related changes in the spine that cause deterioration of its structure over time, including the vertebrae and discs.
Symptoms of Degenerative Scoliosis
Most cases don’t have overt symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose. However, people may develop back pain due to muscular imbalances.
As the condition progresses, people may develop noticeable unevenness in posture. The shoulders or hips might look uneven. People may also unconsciously lean to one side. Sometimes, a hump might develop on one side of the back, and the curvature can also reduce apparent height. In severe cases, there might be nerve compression that leads to leg numbness or weakness.
Even if it causes no symptoms, scoliosis still requires medical attention. It can signify the presence of other degenerative disorders, such as osteoporosis or arthritis. The underlying condition needs to be addressed to avoid the development of debilitating complications.
Treatment Options for Degenerative Scoliosis
Treatment always starts with conservative options, as well as by treating any underlying degenerative conditions. Physical therapy is an effective treatment in alleviating symptoms. Your therapist may prescribe low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking or swimming, to improve the conditioning of your body and maintain good posture.
Your doctor might also recommend oral pain medication to reduce the discomfort from the condition. If pain relief remains elusive, they might administer nerve block injections.
If symptoms continue to significantly impact your ability to perform your daily activities, you may be a candidate for surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon may stabilize your spine with spinal fusion surgery, which aims to safely reduce the curvature of your spine.
Spine Specialist in Southeast Michigan
Degenerative scoliosis is an essential condition to treat, especially as it can indicate other spinal conditions. Ahlgren Spine provides high-quality treatment methods for spinal disorders in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Royal Oak, Michigan. Dr. Bradley Ahlgren is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with many years of success in treating patients for their back pain.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (248) 215-8080 or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you!