When Should Scoliosis Be Treated?

When Should Scoliosis Be Treated?

Though most cases of scoliosis — a problematic spine curvature – are diagnosed in adolescents, did you know that almost 9% of diagnoses go to adults

Some cases can be left untreated, while others require medical intervention. That’s why having your child or you evaluated is critical if you’re experiencing symptoms.

Dr. Benjamin Cohen’s expertise in diagnosing and treating scoliosis has proven invaluable for countless patients, as his treatment plans include approaches that ease the pain and discomfort of scoliosis and correct the root problem — the S- or C-shaped spinal curve or twisted spine. 

Scoliosis basics

Fortunately, there are effective treatments for scoliosis, but its origins are mostly a mystery. About 80-85% of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning that the cause of the problem is unknown. The remaining diagnoses typically link to neuromuscular diseases like cerebral palsy or congenital deformities that develop with wear and tear over time, like osteoporosis, disc degeneration, and arthritis.

Telltale signs that someone may have scoliosis are:

You have scoliosis if your curvature is at least 10 degrees, while a severe curvature is 40 degrees or above. 

How and when is treatment called for with scoliosis?

Although it may seem like any diagnosis of scoliosis would require treatment, that’s not always the case. 

When a child or teen patient has scoliosis curvature that’s not severe — under 20% — Dr. Cohen may take a “wait and watch” approach, where he monitors them carefully by taking regular X-rays to study if and how the curvature progresses. 

If a patient’s spinal curve is 25 degrees or over and they’re still growing, Dr. Cohen may advise bracing, which can prevent curvature progression. Some patients even experience a reduction in curvature. 

When a patient’s curvature is severe — meaning that it exceeds 40 degrees — Dr. Cohen recommends stabilization surgery, where he places metal implants in your spine to straighten and stabilize it. 

In cases of adult scoliosis, Dr. Cohen always considers and treats the root cause of it, whether that’s having brittle bones (osteoporosis), arthritis, or another condition. You may do well with treatments like inflammation-reducing medications and physical therapy or require surgery.

Dr. Cohen considers the underlying conditions before recommending a specific surgical procedure for adult scoliosis. Surgical options include spinal fusion, where he connects two or more adjoining vertebrae to eliminate movement between them; spinal decompression, a procedure where Dr. Cohen removes bone fragments to relieve nerve compression; or spinal reconstruction techniques.

The good news is that, whenever possible, Dr. Cohen performs minimally invasive surgery, which hastens recovery time and causes less pain, bleeding, and scarring. You’re also at lower risk for post-surgical infection than traditional surgical techniques.

If you suspect that either you or your child has scoliosis, call our Garden City office at 516-246-5008 to schedule an in-person or telemedicine appointment so you can get a diagnosis and discuss which treatment options may be right for you.

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