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Understanding Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by the sideways curvature of the spine.  The two most common types of scoliosis are degenerative scoliosis and idiopathic scoliosis. Degenerative scoliosis is most common in adults and results from traumatic bone collapse (from injury or illness), previous back surgeries or osteoporosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is found in adolescents – as many as 4 in 100. The name “idiopathic” means that there is no identifiable cause for the condition. About 30% of patients with idiopathic scoliosis have a family history of scoliosis, but research is still being conducted to determine the exact cause.

In patients with scoliosis, the spine can be curved in three ways: a single curve to the left (in a C shape), a single curve to the right (in a backwards C shape) or two curves (in an S shape). Other visible symptoms of scoliosis include shoulder height asymmetry, a rib hump and the body tilting to one side.

Treatment of scoliosis depends on the degree of spinal curvature and how much growth is still expected in the patient. Observation, back braces and surgery are all options for potential treatment.

The Spine Center at Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates treats the majority of scoliosis patients without surgery, but when surgery is indicated as the best treatment option, they rely on innovative, minimally invasive and motion-preserving surgeries to reduce recovery time and decrease discomfort.

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