Orthopedic Surgeon & Spine Surgeon located in Las Vegas, NV
Every year around three million new diagnoses of scoliosis occur in the United States. Scoliosis can incur in children or adults. If you’re concerned that you or your child has scoliosis, contact Patrick S. McNulty, MD, FABSS, FABOS, a double board-certified and award-winning orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist practicing at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas. Dr. McNulty provides expert diagnosis and treatment for scoliosis to patients of all ages. Call McNulty Spine or make an appointment online today.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in your spine, such as a side-to-side C- or S-shape. In most cases, scoliosis is mild, although when left untreated, the curve can become more severe.
Some of the signs of scoliosis include:
- Uneven shoulders
- Uneven hips
- Rotating spine
- Uneven breasts or chest wall
- One shoulder blade sticks out more than another
- Back pain
- Problems breathing
- Getting shorter
As with many medical diseases, early diagnosis is critical to preventing the condition from becoming more severe.
What causes scoliosis?
There are a few different types or classifications of scoliosis. For example, scoliosis is either structural or nonstructural. Degeneration, injury, or congenital abnormality can cause structural scoliosis. Nonstructural scoliosis is a postural curve of the spine not due to intrinsic structural issues of the spine. This could be due to a significant leg length discrepancy.
Scoliosis is also classified as degenerative, idiopathic, congenital, or neuromuscular. Idiopathic scoliosis has no identifiable cause and comprises around 80% of scoliosis cases in children. These curves can be asymptomatic and then cause problems later on in life as age-related degeneration occurs. Age-related degeneration also can cause scoliosis in adults. This commonly causes difficulty standing up straight and makes day to day life difficult.
Congenital scoliosis is due to a spinal deformity present at birth. Neuromuscular scoliosis develops when there are abnormalities of the neurologic system or muscles about the spine.
Some of the conditions that can lead to neuromuscular scoliosis include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spina bifida and other congenital abnormalities
If your child has scoliosis, there isn’t anything you could have done to prevent it. For example, heavy backpacks and poor posture don’t lead to scoliosis.
How is scoliosis treated?
Dr. McNulty provides customized treatments for scoliosis, depending on the severity of the curve, its cause, and the age of the patient.
For example, children with a curve of 25-40 degrees may benefit from wearing a brace to prevent the curve from getting worse. However, in children or adults with mild spinal curves, Dr. McNulty may simply recommend routine checkups with x-rays to monitor the condition.
In severe cases in which the spinal curve is 40 degrees or higher, Dr. McNulty may suggest spinal fusion surgery to correct the spinal curve.
During spinal fusion surgery, Dr. McNulty uses bone grafts, metal rods, and screws/cable band anchors to correct and fuse the scoliosis curve. Spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis is an option for children, teens, and adults. Dr. McNulty may be also able to offer younger patients the new FDA approved Tether System which corrects the curve but still allows motion, and avoids or delays a fusion reconstruction.
If surgery is necessary, the procedure usually has excellent outcomes, both correcting the curve and reducing pain due to scoliosis.
Call McNulty Spine or schedule a consultation online today for expert diagnosis of scoliosis and customized treatment.