What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature that can affect the spine at any age. In adults, this condition frequently results from progression of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), or from progressive changes of degenerative spinal disease. Beyond the disfigurement that accompanies scoliosis, this condition leads to severe back or leg pain, postural imbalance, weakness or numbness in the legs, or other issues.
Complicating matters, adults may have poor bone quality (osteoporosis or osteopenia), scarring from prior spinal surgery, or concurrent medical illnesses that make treatment difficult. For these reasons, it is vital to seek care from a team equipped to handle complex cases in a thorough, deliberate and careful manner.
What is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis?
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a disorder of abnormal spinal curvature that coincides with the rapid phase of spinal growth, typically during the years just before and after puberty. As the “idiopathic” part of the name implies, we do not have a definitive understanding of what causes AIS. The effects of this disorder, however, are clear:
- Trunk or shoulder asymmetry
- Postural abnormalities
- Disfigurement and deformity
- Impairment of respiratory function (in severe cases)
If diagnosed early, AIS may respond to bracing and other conservative measures. Once the condition has progressed, surgical correction may be required to restore proper spinal alignment.
Why rely on Washington University experts for the treatment of adult or adolescent idiopathic scoliosis?
Washington University spinal neurosurgeons use the most advanced techniques; ranging from minimally invasive approaches to aggressive open spinal reconstructions. Our comprehensive approach addresses the health of the whole patient by ensuring that each individual receives the care he or she needs and benefits from the treatment plan that we offer.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis treatment
Treatment of a scoliosis/spinal deformity depends on your age and spinal curve severity. Young adolescent patients may not require surgical intervention, and those with mild cases can be treated with an external brace. Adult patients requiring surgery are treated with a fusion surgery, where rods and screws are placed into the bones of the spine and realigned. This relieves pressure on the nerves and corrects the abnormal curve.