When Is Surgery the Most Effective Treatment for Scoliosis?

When Is Surgery the Most Effective Treatment for Scoliosis?

Most people with scoliosis, curvature of the spine, are preteens and teens around 10-15 years old. Unfortunately, most of these cases are idiopathic, meaning that we don’t know the reason for why the condition developed. 

Adults can also develop scoliosis, and in these cases, the cause is mainly due to spinal degeneration over time. 

Dr. Benjamin Cohen helps many scoliosis patients arrive at a definitive diagnosis and manage their scoliosis symptoms and progression. He creates innovative scoliosis treatment plans, some of which involve surgical solutions. 

No matter where you are in your scoliosis journey, Dr. Cohen and our team know it’s not an easy road, and we’re here to provide the most advanced care, answer questions, and empower you.

The scourge of scoliosis

Although some scoliosis sufferers might not experience much discomfort, others have severe “S-” or “C-” shaped spinal curvatures that cause body asymmetry, painful spasms and discomfort, and limited mobility. Your resting stance may appear bent, and clothing may hang unevenly. 

Not only does the pain from scoliosis lower your quality of life significantly, the condition can affect you emotionally, frustrating you with its pain and limited mobility, and making you feel self-conscious. 

To see an illustration of scoliosis, watch this short video on our site.

Scoliosis treatment and the role of surgery

If your scoliosis spine curvature isn’t severe, we may simply monitor you, you’ll likely only need minimal treatment — or possibly none at all. 

Physical therapy and medication are noninvasive treatments that successfully address some scoliosis symptoms, but when curvature is severe, meaning in the range of 40-50°, spinal stabilization surgery is usually what’s needed. Dr. Cohen may also have to seek a surgical solution if your pain is severe and/or chronic, or you’re having balance problems.

There are three stabilization options available, and Dr. Cohen bases his specific recommendation on your unique symptoms:

1. Spinal fusion 

Dr. Cohen grafts bone to the affected vertebrae and stabilizes the bones with metal rods, plates, and screws while they fuse together. The bone graft helps to jump-start growth between the two bones, which eventually unite to create a single bone. 

For the bone graft material, Dr. Cohen may harvest it from your own hip, use a bone bank, or use something called a fusion cage. The material it’s made from is biocompatible (synthetic material that doesn’t cause an adverse reaction in your body) and it contains agents that induce bone growth.

2. Spinal decompression surgery

Dr. Cohen removes part of a vertebra and sometimes other parts of the spine in order to lessen pressure on your spinal cord or a nerve root. For scoliosis patients, this is most often combined with fusion surgery. 

3. Spinal reconstruction

This procedure involves spinal fusion also — and Dr. Cohen also uses metal rods and pins to stabilize the spine, but some vertebrae may actually be removed and replaced with synthetic components during surgery. He also corrects severe curvature issues during this procedure.

WIth these surgical options at his disposal, Dr. Cohen can offer you real relief from scoliosis pain and deformity when other treatment options fail. 

Minimally invasive spinal surgery

The development of minimally invasive techniques has been a game-changer in all surgical procedures, but especially spinal surgery. Rather than having to make a large incision, Dr. Cohen only has to make one or two very small incisions. He inserts a thin tube through which he’s able to see the surgical site clearly with the help of an operating microscope or endoscope.

The surgical instruments he uses to perform the surgery are specially designed to fit through the tube, as well. 

Since minimally invasive surgery is so much less traumatic to the body, it offers multiple benefits to patients, including:

Dr. Cohen always uses this minimally invasive technique to perform scoliosis surgery whenever possible, so you can heal more quickly and get back to normal life ASAP.

Call our office at 516-246-5008 to schedule an in-person or telemedicine visit with Dr. Cohen to discuss scoliosis treatment options, or reach out to us through our website.

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