What is Adult Onset Scoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis, also called adult onset scoliosis, often occurs as we age. The result is dull back pain, numbness, a feeling of pins-and-needles, or shooting pains down your leg. The latter, known as sciatica, can make even the simple act of walking feel practically impossible.

Jose E. Rodriguez-Cordova, MD, FACS and our team at the Orthopaedic Institute For Spinal Disorders can treat adult onset scoliosis with a variety of options. Our Houston team is here to educate you about what is adult onset scoliosis and how to treat the symptoms.

While scoliosis in children tends to afflict more girls than boys, adult onset scoliosis affects men and women equally. Scoliosis is primarily caused by disc degeneration in the vertebrae and the areas in between, which seriously affects nerve health. While it is typically treated using non-invasive methods, advanced cases of scoliosis may require surgery.

60% over 60

While no one is certain exactly how many people suffer from adult onset scoliosis, one study estimated as much as 60% of the population over age 60 experiences at least a mild form of it.

We all suffer disc and joint degeneration as we age. However, if you experience an accelerated progression of symptoms, discuss them with Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova to decide your best course of action.

When the moving parts won’t move

When your facet joints, which help the spine bend, and intervertebral discs, which cushion the area between your vertebrae, begin to degenerate, scoliosis can occur.

If adult onset scoliosis causes the spinal cord to narrow or results in an extensive curvature of the spine, this can lead to permanent weakness in the legs or even difficulties with bowel and bladder control.

A variety of treatments

Non-surgical methods can often help strengthen your spine. Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova can treat you with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, or epidural injections to relieve pain. Losing weight, if you are overweight, and exercising can reduce symptoms as well.

By monitoring your bone density, Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova can also spot any underlying issues, such as osteoporosis, which can compromise your bone health.

The goals of surgery

If surgery becomes your best option to restore balance, reduce nerve pressure, and achieve better alignment, Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova will prepare you fully beforehand in order to achieve the best possible results. Surgical options may include:

  • Laminectomy/Foraminotomy: Also known as decompression surgery, this process removes the roof of the spinal canal and enlarges the space where the nerve roots leave the canal in order to decompress your nerves and relieve pain.
  • Spinal fusion: Fuses your own bones or synthetic bone to adjust the spine into a straighter position.
  • Osteotomy: Realigns trimmed portions of the spine.
  • Surgical stabilization: Attaches various anchoring hooks, wires, or screws to the spine and links it together with metal rods to help your spine fuse correctly.

Whatever your condition, you and your back are in good hands with Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova and our team. We work with you individually to develop a course of action that both relieves your pain and improves your quality of life.

To learn whether you’re a candidate for adult scoliosis treatment, including minimally invasive surgery options, call or book a consultation online at Houston’s own Orthopaedic Institute For Spinal Disorders today.

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