Types of scoliosis
Scoliosis causes the spine to curve sideways, often in an S or C shape. In some cases, the spine rotates, making one shoulder blade stick out farther than the other. Scoliosis can affect the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back) spine. Scoliosis has two main categories, nonstructural or structural.
- Difference in shoulder height
- Head is not centered on the body
- Uneven hips or shoulders
- Difference in how the arms hang
- When bending forward, the sides of the back appear different in height
- Spine curves more to one side
- Tired feeling in the spine after sitting or standing for a long time
- Backache or low-back pain
- Bracing: This is an option if the spine is still growing. The type of brace varies with severity.
- Watch and wait: An approach in which the curve is measured in a series of appointments.
Surgery may be recommended if other treatments don’t slow the progression of the spinal curve. Some who didn’t need surgery as a child may find they need it as an adult. Others who had surgery as children may find that the untreated area grew worse, requiring a second surgery.
- Scoliosis surgery: Surgeons attach tiny metal hooks or screws to the spine and connect them to small rods to straighten the spinal curve.
- Spinal fusion surgery: This procedure, in which two or more spinal bones (vertebrae) are permanently joined for stability, may be recommended for an adult with degenerative scoliosis.
- Read about scoliosis in children and the comprehensive care for this condition at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.