The natural curves rounding the shoulders and making the lower back curve slightly inward are normal, but some people have spines that curve unnaturally form from side to side. Spinal deformities cause both functional and cosmetic problems, causing pain that can be addressed with surgery to stop the progression of the deformity. Abnormal spinal curves are more than just a cosmetic concern, as they can impact lung function if there is less space in the chest. The heart may also be impacted by the rib cage pressing against it. With treatment, spinal function can be improved and pain minimized.
Scoliosis and kyphosis are two spinal deformities most often seen in children and adolescents. Both conditions involve abnormal curvatures in the spinal column that affects the muscles of the back and hip alignment. Scoliosis makes the spine curve sideways, and kyphosis the back being abnormally rounded. The common symptoms associated with a curved-spine condition include:
- Uneven waistline
- Tilted shoulders
- One or both shoulder blade protruding
- One hip higher than the other
- Appearance of leaning to one side
- Slightly leaning to the side
- A hump on the side of the back
Spinal Deformities Treatment
Treating spinal deformities must take into account the type of vertebral abnormality, degree of abnormal curve, and any other medical problems a person may have. Fortunately, spinal abnormalities are highly manageable with the advances in modern medicine. An orthopedist is the best physician to diagnose, treat, and monitor scoliosis and kyphosis, as they have extensive knowledge of diseases of the muscles and skeleton.
Nonsurgical treatment includes active observation, which is a simple technique to assess if the curvature seems is unlikely to keep progressing. In children, a doctor will take x-rays of the spine on a regular basis, looking for further abnormalities in the growing years. Bracing or casting is another nonsurgical route that can be used to control compensatory curves.
If a patient’s spinal curves significantly worsen during the course of x-ray monitoring, or if their deformity is severe, surgery is a necessity. If a patient develops a neurological problem due to pressure on the spinal cord, then surgery will be necessary.
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that permanently fuses two or more vertebrae together with screws or rods. A variety of symptoms of back conditions can be relieved with spinal fusion, including degenerative disk disease, tumors, deformities, and others.
Spinal fusion is an option when the vertebrae’s motion is the source of your pain, and by fusing the vertebrae so they do not move, your pain should be eliminated. Although fusion takes away some of your spinal flexibility, most spinal fusions only involve a tiny section of the spinal column, minimizing flexibility problems.
The procedure will vary based on the patient’s needs, but it involves relieving pressure on the nerve root and placing bone grafts between the vertebrae and using screws and rods to keep the area stable. Over time, these bones will fuse together and become more stable, thereby reducing pain, correcting deformities and improving the overall stability of the spine.
Spinal Deformities and spinal fusions are procedures that require proper diagnosis and treatment. The spine specialists at West Medical have perfected minimally invasive treatments for most spinal conditions, and we're happy to help you with any questions and concerns you might have. Get treatment from a group of trusted physicians that care about your health and well-being. For more information about spinal deformities and spinal fusion in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, please call our offices at (855) 690-0565.
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