A healthy spine curves slightly, but some conditions cause the spine to curve dramatically. These conditions include:
- Scoliosis, which causes the spine to curve in the shape of a C or an S. Scoliosis generally affects children, especially girls, but it can also develop in adults.
- Kyphosis, which causes your spine to curve so much that your body is hunched and rounded. Postural kyphosis results from bad posture and slouching and is often less severe. Other types of kyphosis can cause deformities to individual vertebrae and more severe rounding.
Scoliosis and kyphosis also cause:
- Lopsided hips, shoulders, and waist
- Protruding shoulder blades
- Inability to stand straight
- Bulge or bump on the back
Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Care
The team of expert orthopedic experts at MedStar Georgetown includes a nationally recognized specialist in treating scoliosis back pain and cosmetic deformity with multiple surgical options. In addition to our own team, we partner with other MedStar Georgetown specialists to offer you a comprehensive and multidisciplinary care approach. Families always benefit from the time we spend explaining conditions and treatment options thoroughly. Whenever appropriate, we also encourage families to consider alternatives to surgery, including physical therapy and bracing.
Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Diagnosis
The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Georgetown are experts at diagnosing spinal deformities. Our initial exam generally includes:
- Taking your medical history – This includes asking questions about medical problems that might affect the spine, including birth defects and injuries.
- Physical exam – The orthopedist will examine your back, shoulders, waist, arms, and legs carefully, looking to see if both sides of your body are even with each other.
- X-rays – Your orthopedist will likely order an X-ray of your spine to see and measure the extent of the curvature in your spine, or whether any of your vertebrae are out of place.
Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Treatment
The team of expert orthopaedic spine surgeons at MedStar Georgetown spends time with all patients and their families explaining conditions and treatment options thoroughly. Whenever appropriate, we also encourage families to consider alternatives to surgery, including physical therapy and bracing. Our doctors make recommendations based on the extent of the spine curvature, amount of pain, and age. A typical non-surgical treatment option for scoliosis and kyphosis is wearing a brace. This helps keep the curvature from getting worse. In some cases, non-surgical treatment options do not relieve the pain and other symptoms of spinal deformities. In those cases, we will recommend surgery. Our expert team of orthopaedic surgeons will work with you and your family to determine the most effective and advanced surgical options. Surgery to treat spinal deformities serves to straighten the spine and/or release the pressure on spinal nerves. This often requires uniting the vertebrae using special implants to keep the spine together. Learn more about spinal deformity surgery.
If the spine grows unnaturally, this curvature can affect a person's posture for life. If your pediatrician has recommended you see an orthopaedist who specializes in scoliosis, contact a MedStar Georgetown fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon with expertise in this area to perform this evaluation. We uses an innovative approach to predict the development of scoliosis in children who are adolescent or pre-adolescent.
SCOLISCORE™ AIS Prognostic Test
The SCOLISCORE™ AIS Prognostic test, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after a series of clinical trials, is a way to determine who is at risk for curve progression. Using a simple saliva test, the lab can determine, using a DNA footprint, whether your child's curve needs treatment. This test is exciting for doctors—because before SCOLISCORE, the majority of children and teenagers at risk for scoliosis used to have an X-ray every six months to determine the growth and development of their curvature. For the overwhelming majority of children, their curvature will not progress, but it was impossible to know this before SCOLISCORE. Now 60-70 percent of these children know, with certainty, they will not develop scoliosis; therefore, they wont need to be exposed to X-rays every six months.