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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Scoliosis

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Scoliosis Treatment [posted 8/6/98]
Question: I have a moderate case of thorocolumbar Scoliosis. I am 40 years of age and was not diagnosed until I was 23. The curvatures are 35 degrees on the upper curve and 28 degrees on the lower. They offset each other so I appear balanced. I have problems with mild to moderate tightness in the muscles of my lower back almost constantly and occasionally to the point of heavy muscle spasms. Are there any treatments or surgical solutions that are less invasive than implanting rods attached to the spine with flexible hardware (LaQue Rods?). Also, what are the long term problems I am likely to encounter as I get older? For example, arthritis, disc problems, paralysis, etc.?

Answer: Physical therapy with exercises can alleviate the problem, but not fix it. At this point external braces would be of little use. I'd see a spinal specialist in scoliosis for the options, but they are fairly limited at this point. Long term you will develop arthritis and a decreased respiratory capacity due to your spinal deformity. Occasional patients have vascular problems, but much less common.

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