Scoliosis is a condition affecting the spine that causes it to be in a curved position, such as an “S” or a “C” shape. Because the vertebrae are out of proper alignment, scoliosis can pull the ribcage out of position, put strain on the back muscles, and damage the nerves – leading to pain and discomfort.
There are a variety of treatments available to alleviate the pain, and symptoms are more likely to go away successfully if the condition is diagnosed and treated promptly. Let’s delve into what scoliosis is, what can be done about it, and where you can go for an efficient diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes Scoliosis?
The sideways curvature of the spine most commonly occurs during the growth spurt prior to puberty, but disc and bone degeneration as we age can also lead to scoliosis in adulthood. Some types of scoliosis may be caused by a condition such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, a birth defect, a spinal injury, or an infection, but these types are less common.
Although a majority of scoliosis-related spine deformities are mild, some can increase in severity over time, leading to symptoms including:
- Back pain
- Uneven shoulders or waist
- One hip higher than the other
- One-shoulder blade protrudes more than the other
How Does Scoliosis Cause Pain?
Often, people who develop a mild form of the disorder during childhood will not require treatment. However, if scoliosis continues to become more severe over time, it can become painful, disabling, and dangerous. The amount of space within the chest can become tightened, thereby making it difficult for the lungs and heart to function properly.
Severe spinal curves can lead to chronic back pain, nerve damage, and spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis can pinch nerves in the spinal cord and cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and balance problems. If it occurs in the lumbar (lower) spine, it can cause pain or cramps in the legs when standing or walking.
Treatment for Spine Pain Caused by Scoliosis
Treatment for scoliosis can vary depending on the severity of the curve and the symptoms experienced by the patient. Mild curves usually will only require regular monitoring to check for any changes or progression of the curve.
For moderate scoliosis or if a child’s bones are still growing, a brace may be recommended to prevent further progression of the curve. In severe cases of spinal curves, surgery – such as spinal fusion – may be necessary in order to reduce the severity of the curve and to prevent it from getting worse.
For pain associated with scoliosis, there are a variety of interventional pain management procedures and minimally invasive therapies to alleviate symptoms, which can include:
- Epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the spine.
- Nerve block, which is an anesthetic delivered near problematic nerves to block them from sending pain signals to the brain.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses radio waves to heat and destroy the ends of nerves associated with neck, back, and hip pain. This prevents pain signals from being generated and sent to the brain.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy may help to gradually reduce symptoms associated with adult bone degeneration. It uses concentrated platelets from the patient’s own blood to promote natural healing and to repair and replace damaged cells in a target area of the body.
- Spinal cord stimulation can help to manage chronic pain. A spinal cord stimulator is a tiny device that sends low levels of electricity into the spinal cord to alleviate pain symptoms.
- A Vertiflex procedure can help to alleviate nerve compression in mild scoliosis by inserting a spacer between the affected levels of your spine.
- Minimally invasive lumbar decompression (MILD) can address moderate to severe lumbar spinal stenosis associated with degenerative scoliosis. It involves removing excess ligament tissue and small pieces of bone to widen the spinal canal and relieve nerve compression.
Treatment for Spine Pain in Melbourne, FL
If you have pain caused by scoliosis, talk to interventional pain specialist Dr. Nicholas Giordano at Central Florida Spine & Pain to find out what treatments can help you. We specialize in treating spine pain as well as pain that occurs in other areas of the body such as the hips, knees, shoulders, neck, head, back, arms, and legs.