Also referred to as adult onset scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis is a type of spinal curvature (side-to-side) resulting from degeneration of intervertebral discs and facet joints (moving parts of the spine). Degeneration leading to spinal asymmetry may happen gradually over time as an individual ages.
When the condition gets symptomatic, one experiences a dull back ache that may graduate to severe unbearable sensations shooting down the leg (sciatica). Many people find it difficult and even impossible to move.
When scoliosis continues to get worse, surgery may be recommended as a treatment option.
Scoliosis Surgery – Three Major Goals
Generally, degenerative scoliosis surgery has the following goals:
- Halt the progression of the curve – A scoliosis surgery is needed because of continued worsening of deformity. A surgery should work towards preventing curve from getting worse.
- Decrease Deformity – The surgery may de-rotate abnormal twisting of the spine and rectifies the lateral curve by 50 to 70 per cent. The success of surgery depends on the amount of flexibility still available in the spine.
- Maintain Trunk Balance – Surgeon will consider the balance of trunk for changes in the position of the spine. Efforts will also be made to maintain natural front/back curvature of the spine as far as possible. Surgeon will focus on keeping legs and hips even.
Overall health of the spinal cord is also closely monitored throughout the scoliosis surgery.
Scoliosis Surgery can be divided into the following 3 general categories:
- Spinal Fusion
This is a popular spinal surgery that involves fusing if two or more neighboring vertebrae permanently. The procedure aims at helping the vertebrae develop together at the spinal joint to create a solid bone that stays firm and does not move. The surgeon places advanced surgical instrumentation such as screws, hooks, rods, and/or wires in the spine. The process has helped the process of spinal fusion to attain healthier curvature. It also promises faster recovery period as compared to the procedures followed in the past. One of the major benefits of spinal fusion surgery is that it promises long-standing efficiency and safety record for treatment of scoliosis degenerative.
This procedure has a drawback. Fused vertebrae can experience loss of mobility which further restricts certain amount of twisting and bending. Since modern spinal fusions fuse a less number of vertebrae, more mobility is maintained.
- Fusionless Surgery
The present age fusionless surgery techniques employ modulation of spinal growth. This was quite similar to the technique followed in the past for treating uneven leg heights in growing kids. Placing constant pressure on bone will help it grow denser and slower. The pressure on an exterior spinal curve helps the surgeon slow or stop the growth of the outer portion of the curve. On the other hand, the interior side carries on with normal growth. The spinal growth continues in this way and allows lateral curvature decrease while the spine gets straighter.
- Growing Systems
The procedure involves anchoring of rods to the spine. The doctors aim at facilitating correct curvature of the spine during the growth of the child. In this case, the child will need surgery every 6-12 months for ensuring lengthening of rods to continue growth of the spine. As the patient gets closer to skeletal maturity, a spinal fusion is recommended. However, spinal fusion is not recommended at very young age (10-12 years) as this may leave less scope for the development of lungs. It will also give way to abnormally short trunk as compared to the limbs. Growing systems will avoid these symptoms and guides spine as it develops while preventing curve from deteriorating. Finally the spine becomes fusion ready (if needed).
Kane Taylor is a medical doctor, serial-entrepreneur and content writer. Beside medicines, He always doing research for staying healthy and frequently sharing healthy tips. He’s been interested in writing content about health and fitness including joints pain, chronic back pain.