Scoliosis

Our spinal experts provide comprehensive evaluation and sophisticated treatment for this condition

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, commonly found in females.

Although physicians usually diagnose scoliosis in children and teens, as our population ages and people experience degenerative spinal conditions, more and more adults receive the diagnosis.

Our spinal experts will provide comprehensive evaluation and sophisticated treatment for adults and adolescents with scoliosis.

Symptoms

Most teens do not experience any symptoms, but their shoulders and hips may appear uneven because of the curvature. In adults, you most commonly experience back pain and imbalance. You may also feel fatigued.

Types of Scoliosis

The four types of scoliosis include:

  • Congenital scoliosis. Present at birth.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis. Develops because of an underlying neurological condition such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or polio.
  • Degenerative scoliosis. Results from injury, previous back surgery, osteoporosis or general degeneration.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis. Has no known cause and usually develops during adolescence.

Having a family member with scoliosis puts you at greater risk for developing the condition yourself. More females have scoliosis than males—mostly adolescent girls. About 10 percent of United States women have scoliosis, while only about five percent of United States men have the condition.

Diagnosis

To diagnose scoliosis, your physician will use a physical exam, family history and X-rays of the spine to measure how much your spine curves. They may also conduct magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) studies.

Overview

Symptoms

Most teens do not experience any symptoms, but their shoulders and hips may appear uneven because of the curvature. In adults, you most commonly experience back pain and imbalance. You may also feel fatigued.

Types of Scoliosis

The four types of scoliosis include:

  • Congenital scoliosis. Present at birth.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis. Develops because of an underlying neurological condition such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or polio.
  • Degenerative scoliosis. Results from injury, previous back surgery, osteoporosis or general degeneration.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis. Has no known cause and usually develops during adolescence.

Having a family member with scoliosis puts you at greater risk for developing the condition yourself. More females have scoliosis than males—mostly adolescent girls. About 10 percent of United States women have scoliosis, while only about five percent of United States men have the condition.

Diagnosis

To diagnose scoliosis, your physician will use a physical exam, family history and X-rays of the spine to measure how much your spine curves. They may also conduct magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) studies.

For many, your treatment will include physical therapy or bracing, and possibly only careful monitoring by your doctor.

At the IU Health Neuroscience Center, your physicians will determine treatment on a case-by-case basis.

  • In cases where your curvature is less than 20 degrees, your physician will likely periodically check you to see if your curvature progresses
  • In cases where your curvature is 20 to 40 degrees, your physician will likely watch you closely and consider bracing as an option
  • In cases where your curvature is greater than 50 degrees, your physician may recommend surgery if your condition worsens or does not respond to treatment

During surgery, your neurosurgeon will fuse two segments of your spine and insert a metal rod to help your spine stay straight. Your neurosurgeon will fix your spine with screws and rods to maintain your alignment. The IU Health Neuroscience Center has one of the most sophisticated scoliosis surgery programs in Indiana, drawing people from across the Midwest who require highly skilled spine surgeons for their procedures.

Surgeons at IU Health use intraoperative CT images, or scans taken during the procedure, to help them place the fixation, or metal rod and all instruments, in correct position. This ensures a safe and effective surgery and reduces the need for additional treatments.

In addition, the IU Health Neuroscience Center features a sophisticated neuromonitoring program, lowering the risk of spinal cord damage and protecting patients throughout surgery.

Treatment

For many, your treatment will include physical therapy or bracing, and possibly only careful monitoring by your doctor.

At the IU Health Neuroscience Center, your physicians will determine treatment on a case-by-case basis.

  • In cases where your curvature is less than 20 degrees, your physician will likely periodically check you to see if your curvature progresses
  • In cases where your curvature is 20 to 40 degrees, your physician will likely watch you closely and consider bracing as an option
  • In cases where your curvature is greater than 50 degrees, your physician may recommend surgery if your condition worsens or does not respond to treatment

During surgery, your neurosurgeon will fuse two segments of your spine and insert a metal rod to help your spine stay straight. Your neurosurgeon will fix your spine with screws and rods to maintain your alignment. The IU Health Neuroscience Center has one of the most sophisticated scoliosis surgery programs in Indiana, drawing people from across the Midwest who require highly skilled spine surgeons for their procedures.

Surgeons at IU Health use intraoperative CT images, or scans taken during the procedure, to help them place the fixation, or metal rod and all instruments, in correct position. This ensures a safe and effective surgery and reduces the need for additional treatments.

In addition, the IU Health Neuroscience Center features a sophisticated neuromonitoring program, lowering the risk of spinal cord damage and protecting patients throughout surgery.

Patient Stories for Scoliosis

Medline Plus: Scoliosis

Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness.

National Scoliosis Foundation

The National Scoliosis Foundation (NSF), a non-profit organization led by patients, dedicates itself to helping children, parents, adults, and health-care providers to understand the complexities of spinal deformities such as scoliosis.

Resources

Medline Plus: Scoliosis

Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness.

National Scoliosis Foundation

The National Scoliosis Foundation (NSF), a non-profit organization led by patients, dedicates itself to helping children, parents, adults, and health-care providers to understand the complexities of spinal deformities such as scoliosis.