Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Scoliosis
An estimated 6 million people in the United States have some form of scoliosis, a condition in which the curves of the spine are abnormal, often causing strains on the body. The spinal curve may develop as a single curve (shaped like the letter C or a backwards C) or as two curves (shaped like the letter S). If you have scoliosis and you've found this blog by searching for options to treat the condition, then you've come to the right place. In this article, I'll give an overview of scoliosis and non-surgical treatments for the condition, as well as an introduction to minimally invasive spine surgery specifically designed for people with severe scoliosis curvatures that aren't responding to non-surgical treatment methods.
Identifying the early signs of scoliosis in children and teenagers ensures the best options for treating spine curvature and slowing or stopping the progression. For some people, the curve in the spine progresses very minimally or not at all. It's important to note that treatments such as bracing and exercise are meant to slow the progression of a spinal curve and ease the back pain that can be associated with severe scoliosis, but they cannot "cure" or reverse the condition. In some cases, non-surgical treatments simply delay the need for surgery, and in the meantime, keeping an eye on the progression of curvature in the spine is the most appropriate action. I encourage my patients to try various treatment options such as physical therapy, epidural injections, or acupuncture before deciding on surgery. Unlike non-surgical treatments, however, surgery can correct spinal curvature and prevent future progression of spinal curves in adolescents and is typically recommended when an adolescent idiopathic scoliosis spine curvature has reached more than 45 degrees and continues to progress or is greater than 50 degrees.
A few of the most common myths about scoliosis is that corrective surgery is extremely painful, risky, and invasive; or even that scoliosis cannot be corrected with surgery. I covered this topic in a past post about the common myths of scoliosis, which I encourage you to read. In the article, I explain the differences between surgical treatments of the past and the improvements in techniques today, which include small incisions that enable surgeons to avoid cutting delicate muscle tissue, little blood loss, and patients' abilities to recover faster with less pain and fewer complications from surgery. We have consistently published studies on the postoperative effects of minimally invasive scoliosis surgery and found that it is possible to achieve excellent curvature correction and maintain the results. You can read a bit more about these stuides in this article from the Los Angeles Times.
After more than 20 years in practice as an orthopedic spine surgeon specializing in scoliosis, I still have patients come to me with misguided information about the condition and their options for treatment. I hope that the information I've shared here encourages you to talk with a qualified, experienced spine surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive spinal deformity correction about your treatment options and whether surgery is right for you.