While scoliosis – a curvature of the spine – is most commonly associated with children, it can also affect adults. Degenerative scoliosis occurs because of gradual wear and tear to the discs and facet joints that connect the vertebrae. Like all joints in the body, facet joints link the bones together and enable flexibility. As they degenerate over time, these structures can put pressure on the spine and cause it to curve abnormally to one side.
More than half of adults over the age of 65 are diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis, and many may not find the relief they seek through more conservative treatment methods, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care and more. However, there are successful treatment options available through the help of New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C. in Lawrenceville and Toms River, NJ.
Symptoms of Degenerative Scoliosis
The spine’s 33 vertebrae are linked together by the intervertebral discs and facet joints, which act as hinges that allow flexibility when you move. As we age, these joints start to wear down and place pressure on the spine. When more pressure is put on one side of the spine than the other, it can lead to a curvature. In addition, the cartilage around the facet joints becomes inflamed and can lead to painful symptoms.
As a result, the main symptom of degenerative scoliosis is persistent pain in the back as well as in one or both legs. The pain usually worsens over time. Most patients find that sitting relieves pain, while standing, walking and performing other activities may cause it to worsen. Your doctor can suggest a number of ways to alleviate discomfort, including physical therapy and injections, but these treatments may not always work. In these cases, you’ll likely be referred to a surgeon like Dr. Sandro LaRocca at NJNBI.
Diagnosing and Treating Degenerative Scoliosis
In order to properly diagnose degenerative scoliosis, Dr. LaRocca, a board-certified spine surgeon, will meet with you to discuss your symptoms and collect your medical history. He will also conduct a thorough orthopaedic and neurological examination and review any available imaging of your spine. He may also recommend additional imaging such as CT scans, MRI scans or additional x-rays to better assess the spine’s curvature. Once his evaluation is complete, Dr. LaRocca will create the best possible treatment plan for your needs which may include spinal decompression or fusion surgery.
Talk to an Expert
For patients living with degenerative scoliosis, there is hope. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of scoliosis or struggling with numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, pain in the extremities or neurological issues, make an appointment at New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C. to see spine expert Dr. LaRocca. Call 609-896-0020 or contact us online for additional information.