Scoliosis is defined as
an abnormal curvature
of the spine.
Scoliosis is actually more common than many people realize, even in Orange County, CA. About 2-3% of the population in the United States (that is 6 to 9 million people) is affected by this spine condition. Scoliosis correction is a surgical procedure wherein a surgeon safely adjusts the abnormal curvature of the spine so that it becomes properly aligned.
There are several symptoms of scoliosis. Some of the most easily visible symptoms of scoliosis are: uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade may appear more prominent than another, an uneven waist, one hip higher than the other, one side of the rib cage jutting forward, or prominence on one side of the back when bending forward. Many young people who develop scoliosis, can see the condition worsen, without treatment, as they grow. Older adults who develop scoliosis may also see the progression of their curve as they age.
Diseases that affect the part of the nervous system responsible for all motor and sensory nerves can cause neuromuscular conditions. These diseases affect the nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body and can directly contribute to scoliosis.
Babies who are born with congenital scoliosis have vertebrae that have not been fully formed and their spine has a curvature to it. This occurs in very early embryonic development but there is not enough evidence through genetic studies to show whether this condition is inherited. Congenital scoliosis can become apparent as a baby grows into a toddler.
It is possible for scoliosis to form and/or worsen after a spinal surgery has been performed – Dr. Jeremy Smith, M.D., specializes in corrective spinal surgery, even for patients who continue to suffer from scoliosis.
The natural aging process on the disks and vertebrae can cause scoliosis and kyphoscoliosis. If the disk is worn unevenly, one side will start to collapse more than the other. This causes the vertebrae to “lean” to one side, and an abnormal curvature in the spine will result. It is important to focus on proper posture and alignment throughout one’s life to reduce the risk of this occurring.
Consult a doctor for a full diagnosis if you are experiencing any issue resulting from pain in the spine; there are many conditions, including scoliosis, that can be treated easily if they are caught early.
An “Adam’s Test” is usually performed to physically assess a patient’s scoliosis. During this test, a patient will bend down from the waist so that the doctor can examine the extent of the abnormalcy of the curvature of the spine.
Diagnosis of scoliosis requires image testing such as standing and leaning spinal X-rays. Other imaging studies, such as an MRI, may be ordered to determine the impact the curvature has on the nerves and spinal cord. A CT scan may also be utilized to obtain a better understanding of the patient’s unique bony anatomy.
In order to make the most accurate assessment of your scoliosis, a doctor may perform additional testing. Be sure to bring any previous pertinent imaging and assessment paperwork to your appointment as well.
Many patients see valuable long-term results from applying a brace to the back to correct scoliosis. A brace is helpful in preventing scoliosis from worsening as it keeps the back straight, in an unrotated position, as a child or teen grows.
For many patients, physical therapy is often the most effective treatment for scoliosis. Physiotherapy supports muscular or spinal issues. Some exercises may worsen the condition, however, so ask your doctor which physical therapy routine is best for addressing your scoliosis.
The main goal in spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis is to correct the abnormal curve and realign the spine. Surgery is however a final option in treating scoliosis, in most cases.
Although spinal fusion is the gold standard for surgical treatment for scoliosis, your doctor may alternatively suggest other surgical or non-invasive options to best treat your condition.
At Dr. Jeremy Smith, M.D., we treat with compassion and a patient-first approach. If your scoliosis is treatable without the need for surgery, we will try all avenues that are non-surgical first. There are many factors to take into account when assessing a patient’s condition, and we strive to help you make the best decision for your spine and your future.
Taking a multidisciplinary approach involves planning a surgical approach with multiple doctors, experts, and specialists from different disciplines at the table. This reduces the risks of surgical complications for our patients and systematically improves the quality and safety of complex surgeries.
PERSONALIZED TREATMENT PLAN
At Jeremy Smith, M.D., we take a personalized treatment plan approach, wherein our decisions are guided by a patient’s history, lifestyle, and diagnostic testing. By doing so, we can achieve the best treatment plan for our patients.
There are advances in technology made every day. Our team is committed to using the most advanced techniques available in treating your scoliosis. At Jeremy Smith, M.D., we want our patients to feel that we are taking on a robust treatment plan both before and after surgery – ask your doctor which physical therapy techniques best support your condition. Let us be a part of leading you to a pain-free tomorrow.
What to expect after treatment
After corrective surgery, most patients require several weeks of rest and recovery. However, your doctor will likely have you up and walking with assistance as soon as the following day.
Postoperative or post-treatment pain management tips
Your doctor will typically prescribe pain medications for up to six weeks post-surgery. After that point, most patients treat pain with over-the-counter medications such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol). It is wise to follow your doctor’s guidance on exercise/activity restrictions closely after surgery to avoid injury and other complications.
Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Once you have passed the six-week mark post-surgery, most patients will experience the best long-term results by committing to their physical therapy and rehabilitation exercise routines. Some examples of these PT exercises may include: walking exercise programs, hip and core strengthening, sciatic nerve gliding, and postural correction exercises.
Returning to normal activities
Each patient experiences a full recovery from surgery at different rates, but on the whole, most patients are able to return to normal activities at the 3 to 6-month mark. Nerve healing can take up to 1-2 years. Your doctor will track your progress after surgery and recommend a timeframe to lift your physical restrictions that is appropriate for your body.
Important questions to ask before correction
What are the best options for treating my condition?
If I were to need surgery to correct my scoliosis, which surgical options are there?
Are there different methods available for doing this surgery?
In what ways will this surgery help to improve my spinal condition?
If I were to wait to do this surgery, what would happen?
Is my age a factor in pursuing surgery versus another form of treatment for my scoliosis?
Qualifications to look for in a spine surgeon
Dr. Jeremy Smith M.D., is one of the most sought-after spine surgeons in Orange County, CA. He has not only performed countless procedures to correct scoliosis, but Dr. Smith is the specialist that many patients are referred to for corrective spinal surgeries and revisions by other doctors.
Dr. Smith’s exceptional care extends to patients with complex deformities and also to those who have experienced previous surgical failures. With his expertise and comprehensive understanding of complex spinal deformities, he compassionately approaches each case, tailoring treatment plans to address the unique needs and challenges of these individuals. Through his dedication, Dr. Jeremy Smith has become a trusted and respected figure in the field of spinal deformity surgery, embodying the qualities of a compassionate healer, skilled surgeon, and a tireless advocate for patient well-being.
What is the typical success rate of scoliosis surgery?
Dr. Jeremy Smith M.D., has a very high success rate with scoliosis corrective surgeries. Surgery is sometimes necessary to keep this condition from worsening with time.
How long is the recovery period for scoliosis correction surgery?
The recovery period from scoliosis correction surgery is typically 3 to 6 months, up to 1 to 2 years, depending on the complexity of the surgery.
Can scoliosis be prevented?
Although some forms of scoliosis cannot be prevented because they are in a patient’s genes, other forms of scoliosis can be prevented with proper posture, a well-balanced diet, and a regular exercise routine incorporating resistance training and mobility work.
Is surgery necessary for scoliosis treatment?
Surgery is not always necessary in treating scoliosis. Some forms of physical therapy and exercise or wearing a back brace can make a tremendous impact on preventing worsening scoliosis in the spine.
How can I tell if I have scoliosis?
Some symptoms of scoliosis may include:
One limb is shorter than the other
Clothes don’t fit right
A visibly curved spine
A rib or hip sticks out on one side
Leaning to one side