Learn about the shock-absorbing discs that separate the bones in the spine.
When should a person consider scoliosis surgery to straighten a curve? Itís a complex decision, because waiting too long carries increasing risks. Thatís because the spine is most flexible ó and more receptive to correction ó when the person is under 21 years of age. As a person gets older, the spine is less flexible and the scoliosis surgeon must be careful to not over-correct which could cause damage to the spinal cord and cause paralysis. Advances in spinal deformity surgery has produced new instrumentation and fixation devices that untwist the spine. A surgeon trained in mini-scoliosis surgery accesses the spine through several shorter incisions rather that one long incision. This lessens the disruption to muscles and ligaments and speeds recovery.
At Texas Spine and Scoliosis, Dr. Matthew Geck and Dr. Rory Mayer are both fellowship-trained in spine surgery. Both Dr. Geck and Dr. Mayer are proficient in the most advanced treatment options for spinal curves and spinal deformity. Over the past 15 years Texas Spine and Scoliosis has treated scoliosis patients from across Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Dr. Geck through his SpineHope Foundation has also treated complex scoliosis patients from Mexico, Central America, Ecuador and South America
About Adult Scoliosis Surgery
Adult scoliosis relates to anyone that has scoliosis and is eighteen or older. Adult scoliosis is different from children scoliosis cases in that adults are skeletally mature and may have different treatment options. Scoliosis in adults is usually accompanied with back pain and that is why they choose to get themselves evaluated. Treatment difficulties for the spine surgeon may exist since adult scoliosis can cause the spine to become stiff. In many cases, advanced disc degeneration that can create severe pain is accompanied with the scoliosis. Many patients with adult scoliosis may experience osteoporosis, which can play a contributing factor. All of these factors add into the equation of what treatment is right for the patient.
Degenerative scoliosis is one of the most common types of scoliosis for older adults and may progress. This type of scoliosis is usually associated with stenosis and leg pain. Most treatment for adult scoliosis is non-operative. Conservative treatment options may include physical therapy or injection therapy.
A spine specialist will put together an individualized treatment program consisting of exercise and conditioning to help the patient increase function and energy, while trying to reduce the source of pain. Steroid injections may also be used to help control pain. Bracing is rarely used in adults nor does it provide pain relief.
Surgery is used only after non-surgical options are tried. And an emphasis is usually put on less invasive or minimally invasive surgeries unless scoliosis is severe, or global kyphosis (flatback) exists. Surgery is recommended for curvatures that have gradually worsen or previous treatment options have all been exhausted and the pain still persists. It is not uncommon in adult scoliosis cases when discs are severely degenerated, which require the spinal fusion to be extended down to the sacrum. This situation may require the surgeon to perform the surgery on both your back and front side.
The length of the recovery is dependent of how extensive the surgery was and the age of the patient. Some patients will be back to full activity in three months, and some patients may need as long as six to nine months to properly heal. Many patients become thrilled and happy knowing the pain they suffered with is no longer going to bother them.
About Adults with Previous Operated Scoliosis
Often older techniques such as anterior surgery for lumbar scoliosis, Harrington rods, or Cotrel-Dubousset instrumentation may have long fusions with minimal correction or they were fused in some kyphosis.
With time and aging, these individuals may develop progressive disc degeneration resulting in a stooping or flatback syndrome, or back and leg pain from degeneration. Other causes of back pain in a previously operated patient include junctional deformities or non-unions with broken rods.
Surgery in a specialty scoliosis center, such as Texas Spine and Scoliosis in Austin, with fellowship-trained surgeon Dr. Matthew Geck, whose practice focuses on spinal deformities is important for successful return to activity for patients.
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