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Degenerative Scoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis describes a sideways curvature of the spine that results from degeneration of the joints and disks in the spine. This degeneration and the resulting asymmetry of the spine most often occurs gradually as a person ages. 

Our fellowship-trained surgeons, Richard Hostin, MD, Ioannis Avramis, MD and Shyam Kishan, MD will take the time to properly evaluate your condition and discuss the most effective treatment options with you.

A particularly debilitating form of the disease in adults is degenerative scoliosis, which produces incapacitating pain and progressive curvature of the spine. Untreated cases may manifest as a disfiguring S- or C-shaped curve and often a large hump in the back. As they age, patients with this form of scoliosis have increasing difficulty exercising, and their lifestyle may be impacted by pain. As the disease progresses, some may experience difficulty breathing and walking.

Southwest Scoliosis Institute offers a comprehensive diagnosis of each patient’s specific curvature through a physical examination of the back and extensive testing including specialized low dose X-rays.

Degenerative scoliosis is classified as:

  • Pure degenerative – Scoliosis patients who had straight spines earlier in life but developed curvatures from wear and tear of the aging spine.
  • Old idiopathic curves with degenerations – Scoliosis patients who had curves in childhood that increased in curvature later in life.
  • Secondary – Scoliosis patients who experienced curves caused by other conditions, such as tumors and fractures.

When Does Degenerative Scoliosis Become Serious?

If degenerative scoliosis causes the spinal cord or a nerve root to become impinged, either through stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or severe bending of the spine, nerve function could be jeopardized. Initially, this is often felt as a sharp or shock-like pain in the back that radiates down the buttock and/or into the leg, or as tingling or numbness that can radiates down into the leg. This is commonly referred to as sciatica or sciatic pain, and the medical term for this type of radiating pain is radiculopathy. While uncommon, it is possible for degenerative scoliosis to cause permanent weakness in the legs and/or problems with bladder and bowel control.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 214-556-0565.