Is It Possible to Reverse Scoliosis?

misc image

 Is It Possible to Reverse Scoliosis?

A healthy spine naturally curves by your neck, chest, and lower back. An estimated 2 to 3% of Americans, mostly children, develop an abnormal sideways curve shaped like the letter S or C.

Many patients suffering from scoliosis don’t require treatment, but can scoliosis be reversed? In this blog, our fellowship-trained Neil Bhamb, MD, shares his insights on scoliosis and the importance of managing the condition.

Scoliosis diagnosis explained

As a parent or a patient, it’s natural to freak out about any condition related to the spine or back, so let’s take a deeper dive into scoliosis diagnosis to understand what the condition is all about.

Your physician measures the angle of the spine’s curve to determine a scoliosis diagnosis, which is a curve of 10 degrees or greater. The severity of the curve helps determine treatment options:

  • Less than 20 degrees is considered a mild curve
  • Between 25 degrees and 40 degrees is a moderate curve  
  • More than 50 degrees is a severe curve.

The exact cause is often unknown

Although scoliosis seems connected to hereditary factors, its exact cause is often unknown. Remarkably, about 80% of all scoliosis cases are classified as idiopathic scoliosis, having an unknown origin. The most common group who get scoliosis is children between the ages of 10 and 12 years old, with more girls than boys suffering from more severe symptoms.

 Adults can also have scoliosis. With adults, scoliosis cases fall into three common categories: those who had scoliosis as children but didn’t get treatment, those who got scoliosis surgery as children, and those with adult-onset scoliosis. Typically diagnosed in patients aged 65 and above, adult-onset scoliosis is a degenerative condition in the lower back or lumbar spine region.  

It’s important to note that if your physician diagnoses you or your child with scoliosis, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a treatment plan. A vast majority – about 70% of all patients who are diagnosed with scoliosis don't require treatment.

Monitoring and managing scoliosis

While there is no known cure for scoliosis, it’s highly treatable. Treatable, but does treatment reverse the condition? The most accurate way to think about scoliosis treatment is that it seeks to lessen the curve and prevent the curve from progressing. 

In adolescent cases, where the patient has a mild curve and is still growing, the treatment strategy is about monitoring to make sure the curve doesn’t become more pronounced. Monitoring includes in-office exams every four to six months and X-rays, as needed. 

Sometimes, when a patient’s spine hasn’t fully developed, and they have a moderate curve of about 25 degrees and 40 degrees, your physician may recommend bracing to prevent the curve from worsening.

Surgery for severe cases

In rare cases, when bracing has failed or the patient’s curvature is more than 45 to 50 degrees, your physician may recommend surgery. When scoliosis advances to this level, pain, discomfort, and breathing or lung function can be compromised.

Spine fusion is a surgical option for severe cases of scoliosis. Dr. Bhamb addresses spine fusion by joining or fusing two or more vertebrae in the affected area to cease movement between these bones, which addresses the pain.   

Dr. Bhamb offers patients an advanced level of surgery called minimally invasive spinal surgery or MISS. As a fellowship-trained board-certified minimally invasive spine surgeon, Neil Bhamb, MD, is renowned for this surgical technique. 

In contrast to open surgery, MISS enables surgeons with a less disruptive path to the surgical site. Less cutting through muscles and tissue and small incisions translates to less pain, quicker recovery times, and a reduced risk for surgical complications. 

Dr. Bhamb also performs endoscopic spine surgery or ESS, an even more advanced surgical approach that includes smaller incisions and small tools, a camera or endoscope, and sometimes robotic-assisted variation to the surgery. ESS offers the added benefit of enhancing a standard range of spine mobility post-surgery.

Early diagnosis of scoliosis is critical. The sooner the condition gets discovered, the more treatment options are available. If you or your child are showing symptoms of scoliosis, contact the office of Dr. Neil Bhamb at our Century City or Marina Del Rey, California, location. Book your appointment online or call the office convenient for you today.