One of the most common chronic back conditions is scoliosis. If you have been recently diagnosed with scoliosis or have struggled with it since childhood, chances are you can still live a normal life. However, the persistent pain and discomfort of scoliosis can be debilitating and impact your ability to perform daily activities.
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic back conditions like scoliosis, and some may not even know it. It’s not uncommon for a person to have a mild case of scoliosis for years before they are properly diagnosed. Naturally, more severe cases are detected early on because the symptoms are usually more prominent.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is characterized by an abnormal and sideways curvature of the spine described to be either “S” or “C”-shaped. It is most often diagnosed in adolescents and people with neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
Doctors are still unsure of what causes the common form of scoliosis, but they speculate it could be hereditary. Other potential causes of scoliosis may include neuromuscular conditions, birth defects, spine abnormalities and more.
What Are the Scoliosis Symptoms?
- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder blade appears to be more prominent than the other
- Uneven waist
- One hip appears higher than the other
- Leaning to one side
- Upon bending over, one side of the back appears to be more prominent
- One side of the ribcage juts forward
- Ill-fitting clothes
- Muscle spasms
- Severe back pain
How Is Scoliosis Treated?
Treatment ultimately depends on the severity of the spine’s curvature. Children who have been diagnosed with scoliosis should be closely monitored to ensure the bend doesn’t increase. Some doctors may recommend wearing a brace for 13 to 16 hours a day to prevent the curve from getting worse. Adolescents ages 14 to 16 who have reached their full height will no longer need to wear a brace.
Severe cases of scoliosis may require surgery to straighten the curve and prevent symptoms from worsening. Potential surgical procedures include spinal fusion, vertebral body tethering and expanding rods.
Can Scoliosis Get Worse Over Time?
In most scoliosis cases, the curvature starts out mild but can worsen as a child grows and develops. Some healthcare providers will check and monitor a child for scoliosis using various neurological exams and X-rays. If the curve doesn’t change, treatment is usually not necessary. If there is a potential for the condition to worsen, the child may need to wear a brace or undergo surgery.
If scoliosis is left untreated, the body may develop constriction and misalignment issues. In more extreme cases, the curvature can actually reduce the amount of space within the chest and disrupt lung function — making it difficult to breathe. It can also affect the function of the heart, stomach and liver.
The seriousness of the potential complications makes early scoliosis detection vital. More severe symptoms can likely be avoided if families are proactive and seek proper treatment.
Can Spinal Cord Stimulation Help with Scoliosis Pain Management?
Coping with scoliosis and chronic back pain is a life-long challenge that can become particularly difficult as time goes on. Since scoliosis is uncurable, ridding yourself of the pain and discomfort can sometimes feel hopeless.
Spinal cord stimulation targets the nerves that send “pain” signals to your brain and disrupts them — ultimately preventing your brain from receiving the signals and experiencing the pain sensation. Spinal cord stimulation is administered through a neurostimulation implant that is surgically placed inside the body near the affected nerves. The implant is about the size of a watch and made of leads and a small generator. The system is controlled by a remote to adjust the level and location of stimulation.
This symptom management tool is particularly helpful for patients with scoliosis because it can control their pain levels and minimize discomfort.
Schedule an Exam with Spine Specialists in Atlanta
We understand the toll long-lasting back pain can have on you or someone you love. If you are ready to seek help for your chronic back pain, AllSpine Laser and Surgery Center can provide expert neurological care, including spinal cord stimulation for people with scoliosis in Atlanta.
A friendly member of our team is available to discuss your treatment options. Schedule an appointment at one of our five locations in Atlanta by giving us a call at (770) 997-0600.