If you notice that your child or teen’s shoulders seem unbalanced, hips are high, or clothes hang unevenly, it is a good idea to have them checked out for scoliosis, a common condition most often diagnosed in adolescents. Even though this condition affects children and teens most often, it is a reality for adults as well.
The condition occurs when a patient has a sideways “S” or “C”-shaped spinal curvature, and affects about six to nine million Americans. Treatment plans for scoliosis generally depend on how severe the spinal curvature is, but evaluation by a physician is always warranted.
Dr. Benjamin Cohen in Garden City, New York, offers services and surgical interventions to individuals suffering from a wide range of spinal issues. As an expert consultant for scoliosis, he has extensive diagnostic experience and years of performing advanced surgical procedures to correct spinal curvature problems.
Dr. Cohen’s well-informed approach, combined with his deep concern for his patients, makes him highly respected and sought-after.
How do I identify scoliosis?
Some symptoms reveal themselves by making a person’s alignment and appearance seem “off.” Additional scoliosis signs to look for include:
- A waist that appears uneven
- Ribs that aren’t aligned
- Changes to the skin above the spine, including discoloration, dimpling, and hair patches
- Postural problems, where the body leans to one side
- For more severe curvature - pain, muscle spasms, and limited mobility
The vast majority of scoliosis is idiopathic, meaning you can’t trace the cause, but sometimes it’s related to a neuromuscular condition like cerebral palsy. This is typically the diagnosis when scoliosis is found in patients after puberty and skeletal growth is complete.
If scoliosis isn’t bothersome, can you let it go?
If scoliosis is very mild, no treatment is usually needed; if spinal curvature is moderate to severe, it’s important to get assessed and treated by a doctor, as curvature can worsen over time. Scoliosis is progressive, and several factors can drive how it advances, including growth spurts for patients diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence, the severity of the curvature at the time of diagnosis, and its location.
Adult scoliosis patients typically experience slower progression at first, but as they age, it speeds up the spine degenerating, vertebrae weakening, and arthritis and osteoporosis developing.
When adult curvature progresses, pain often emerges as nerves and muscles are affected and compressed more and more, and the chances of disc degeneration and other problems increase. You may also lose your height.
When you don’t treat scoliosis, no matter your age, an array of complications can arise:
- Increased pain and discomfort
- Progressive deformity
- Problems bending and twisting
- Organ damage, such as to the heart and lungs
- Digestive issues, especially in adults
Dr. Cohen’s approach to scoliosis is to look at each patient’s experience closely and design a treatment plan that fits their specific needs.
Treatment Options for Scoliosis
It’s critical to be proactive when it comes to treatment for scoliosis. An ever-growing spinal curvature can mean debilitating pain, deformity, and limitations to living the life you want.
Scoliosis that’s not severe may only require minimal treatment, but if a patient’s curvature is greater than 40-50°, Dr. Cohen may recommend stabilization surgery to halt the progression and relieve pain. During these minimally invasive procedures, Dr. Cohen inserts metallic implants to straighten your spine and keep it from moving.
He may advise:
- Spinal decompression, which opens up bony canals that the spinal cord and nerves pass through, addressing the limited space and relieving pain and pressure.
- Spinal fusion, a procedure where a bone graft is applied to the appropriate vertebrae, and metal plates, screws, or rods keep the bones stationary while they fuse. The graft helps the fusion process, and eventually, the adjoining bones become one.
- Spinal reconstruction. During this process, Dr. Cohen also performs spinal fusion, but he may remove vertebrae and replace them with synthetic components, as well as address severe curvature problems.
With any surgery, Dr. Cohen prepares and answers all your questions, expertly performs the surgery, and guides you through recovery.
Dr. Cohen also considers more conservative scoliosis treatments if they're appropriate. These include medications to ease inflammation and physical therapy. He takes into account your entire back health framework, such as whether you’re living with osteoporosis or another condition, and is mindful about treating those too.
Don’t hesitate to seek treatment from Dr. Cohen for scoliosis. He offers telemedicine and in-person consultations, so you can better understand your condition, your options, and your goals. Call the office at 516-246-5008 or make an appointment online today.