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Proper curvature of the spine is essential for healthy posture, body function, range of motion, and mobility. When the spine rotates and curves to the side, the condition is called scoliosis, and the physical effects of such irregularities can become painful, debilitating, and disfiguring. Instances of scoliosis can range from mild to severe depending upon the degree of spinal abnormality that is present. At Garden State Orthopaedics, our team of orthopaedic surgeons are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis for patients of all ages. In addition to utilizing state-of-the-art diagnostic technology to identify and monitor the condition, we offer a wide range of non-surgical treatments, physical therapy services, and surgical options. For patients with scoliosis, our goal is to use the least invasive techniques to bring about the most significant improvement in the alignment of the spine.

If you are concerned about visible curvature in your child’s spine or suffer from scoliosis yourself, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified orthopaedic surgeons. A thorough physical examination and X-rays performed during this appointment can determine the presence of scoliosis and initiate the path toward treatment. Addressing the condition with the appropriate treatment methods can prevent worsening symptoms, alleviate discomfort, and improve quality-of-life.

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine develops a sideways curvature more than 10 degrees to the right or left, creating an “S” or “C” shape. While the cause of scoliosis is not typically known, most cases are identified during childhood—often after a period of significant growth prior to puberty. Adults can be afflicted with scoliosis as well. Adult-onset scoliosis is less common and mainly results from either untreated scoliosis that began in childhood or an underlying primary condition such as osteoporosis or a neuromuscular disorder. Genetics can also play a role in the development of the condition and those with a family history of scoliosis are urged to undergo examination to detect potential abnormalities.

Scoliosis Diagnosis & Treatment for Children

Scoliosis screenings are routinely performed by pediatricians and may also be offered in schools to detect the condition early-on. If you notice changes in the shape of your child’s spine or have been informed that your child is showing signs of scoliosis, scheduling an appointment with a skilled orthopaedic specialist is highly advised.

Physical signs of childhood scoliosis may include:

  • Changes in posture
  • Unusual gait
  • Tilted or uneven shoulders
  • Unevenly protruding shoulder blade(s)
  • Unbalanced hips and/or waist
  • Shifted or twisted rib cage
  • Body leaning to one side

Proper diagnosis with one of our orthopaedic surgeons includes a thorough physical examination, discussion of medical history, and a series of X-rays. From the X-rays, the degree of spinal deviation can be calculated.

If curvature is detected, the measurements of the abnormality determine the severity of the scoliosis. In mild cases of childhood scoliosis, our orthopaedic specialists often recommend continued monitoring of your child’s spine to observe any concerning curvature progression as he or she continues to grow into skeletal maturity. Exercises and physical therapy may also provide some benefit by strengthening the back muscles and balancing muscle tone. In more serious cases, a well-fitted orthopaedic back brace may be recommended to prevent the curvature from worsening as the spine continues to develop. For patients with extreme curvature measurements that are likely to continue progressing, surgical techniques for straightening the spine may be discussed.

Scoliosis Diagnosis & Treatment for Adults

Undetected childhood scoliosis, neuromuscular disorders, and spinal degeneration are typically the causes of adult-onset scoliosis. Many instances of scoliosis in adults begin as a mild spinal curvature in youth that progresses to a problematic degree in adulthood. For others, herniated (ruptured) intervertebral disks and/or degeneration of the vertebrae (due to osteoporosis) can change the shape of the spine. Back pain, numbness, mobility impairments, changes in body structure, and even difficulty breathing are symptoms that drive patients to consult with our orthopaedic surgeons. An accurate diagnosis can be achieved with a thorough physical examination, discussion of medical history, and diagnostic imaging of the spine. For adults it is important to rule out the potential for underlying neuromuscular disorders that could be causing the curvature.

A customized treatment strategy can be developed based on the findings of your diagnostic evaluation. At Garden State Orthopaedics, non-surgical treatment methods are the first line of defense against pain and other symptoms. If non-surgical approaches cannot provide adequate relief, surgical options for repairing the spine can be discussed.

Contact our office to schedule a consultation for a comprehensive spinal evaluation and learn all about effective treatment options that may help relieve your back pain.