Degenerative Scoliosis – Causes, Consequences [SOLUTIONS GUIDE]9 min read

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What is degenerative scoliosis?

Degenerative scoliosis is a condition where the human spinal-cord undergoes a complete deformation in its shape.

It may start off with the stiffening and straightening process, ultimately leading to bending on one side.

The starting point of this condition is usually the degeneration of joints in the spinal cord.

What are the probable causes of this condition?

According to orthopedic specialists, this condition could be caused due to many reasons.

Though they point out some of the most common causes that might have been developing since childhood, they are unsure about the exact reasons that cause this abnormal condition.


Some of the most common causes, as pointed out by them, include

Bone-abnormality at the time of birth:

This is known as the congenital-form. In this case, the spine’s deformation happens either due to rotation or twisting of the spinal-cord roots. As the child starts growing, it results in the formation of multiple-dimensional curvature in the spinal cord.

  • Observation: In most cases, abnormal structured growth is usually not observed during early childhood. This happens mainly because of the relative softness of the child’s spinal cord. But as the child grows into teens and the spinal-cord starts getting harder, the abnormal shape is explicitly observed. Experts opine that this condition’s advancement is promoted by the Hemi-vertebra. The person’s top portion of the spinal cord and its lower portion is not in the standard vertical alignment.

Aging: This is yet another common cause in people over the age of 60. Here also, the causes are multiple in nature. Some of them are found to be

Wear & tear: This usually happens when the person is taking part in risky and traumatizing physical-activity filled games, actions, etc.

This could also happen due to excessive driving without proper caring of the spinal cord.

  • Observation: It may not be explicitly visible during adulthood, spanning from 25-55 or even much later. But as the muscle strength goes on weakening with age, this phenomenon becomes acuter. It is said that it gets worsened when the muscles surrounding the person’s spinal cord become weak. Then the curvature also gets more intense in nature.
  • Shallow-water-diving. No one knows the actual link between this sport and the development of scoliosis accurately. However, medical records show that people who practice this sort of sports or activities tend to develop severe scoliosis over a period, which becomes acute as they grow beyond their 60s.

Spinal-canal narrowing: This is said to be another major reason for the intense condition of this problem.

Digestion problems developed in the later ages of 60+ could also lead to spinal disorders. Accumulation of this problem slowly turns to scoliosis over time.

Some of the most common bowel disorders in old age could be listed as

  • Constipation-problem: Though most of the medical world opines that constipation results from scoliosis, the reverse phenomenon is observed in many cases at old age. Instances of chronic constipation have often turned into scoliosis problems. Hence it is suggested that seniors suffering from constipation need to care for it.
  • Injury to the spinal cord: An internal injury to the spinal cord often leads to weakening the lower and central portion over time. If left untreated, this could slowly turn into scoliosis. Experts suggest that prevention is better than trying to rectify the issue.

When does degenerative scoliosis occur?

There is a particular age or time during which one can expect the occurrence of scoliosis.

It could start right at the childhood age and surface when the person is in his teens, middle age, or old age.

What are the various forms?

Some of the commonly occurring forms of scoliosis are categorized into

Neuromuscular scoliosis: This is an asymmetrical shape developed by the spinal-cord due to unusual patterns found in the myoneural-lines.

  • Characteristics: The Pelvic-region becomes oblique in nature. Trunk-region collapses.
  • Treatment: According to experts, surgery is said to be the most effective way as it has crossed the stages of therapy and Bracing.

dextroconvex scoliosis: This is defined as scoliosis related to muscle-spasm in the chest area. From there, it slowly extends into the back and the arm region. Over time it reaches the lower back region.

  • Characteristics: The spine starts taking a curvature in the shape of “S”. This often results in shoulder pain.
  • Treatment: Therapy is suggested as one of the most effective ways to treat this type of scoliosis. Even though surgery is also an available option, it is avoided due to the risk of causing further injuries. Therapy takes more time, but at least saves the patient from possible permanent damages.

Levoconvex scoliosis: The curvature of the spinal cord to its left side is called as Levoconvex scoliosis. It is considered to be more dangerous since it affects the heart region.

  • Characteristics: This often results in impairing shoulder-alignment, with one tending to lower than the other. This often occurs due to the curving of T1-T12 bones of the spinal cord.
  • Treatment: The most effective treatment for this type of scoliosis is said to be putting the Braces. This helps to shape the curving spinal back into its normal shape.

Kyphosis scoliosis: It is called the frontward twisting of the spinal cord. It normally starts developing within the embryo when the spinal cord’s frontal-part fails to develop or segment in the right manner.

  • Characteristics: It is based on the two types of failures, namely Type-1related to the formation and type-2 related to segmentation. Type-1 is associated with the spinal cord’s Thoracolumbar region (The junction area between the lumbar and Thoracic-region). This type of scoliosis gets worse with time. Type-2 results when Normal disc formation is obstructed. This can often be observed when the person starts walking.
  • Treatment: Physical-therapy is highly recommended for this type of scoliosis. In the post-therapeutic-period, experts suggest exercises that aim to activate muscles around the region where Kyphosis is formed. This is supposed to be one of the most effective long-term treatment methods compared to surgical methods.

Rotatory scoliosis: This occurs when the spinal-cord experiences a rotational motion as well as has a curvature.

  • Characteristics: Leg and body movement becomes difficult. Participating in sports and related activities become an almost impossible task.
  • Treatment: Fluid-Isometrics is said to be one of the most effective treatments.

Cobb angle scoliosis: This is normally formed by the two lines (Parallel to Superior and Inferior end-Vertebra, respectively) intersection, resulting in a deep U-shaped curve at the spinal cord center.

This syndrome is named after the ortho expert Dr. Cobb who worked extensively on the causes, symptoms, and possible treatments related to this problem related to the crooked back.

  • Characteristics: The spinal cord gets into the shape of a crane’s neck. It is often followed by severe pain in the central portion of the spine, extending to the upper and lower portions.
  • Treatment: Side-Shift-Therapy is one of the most effective treatment methods advised for this type of scoliosis.

Functional scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is temporary in nature compared to the structural-scoliosis, which is permanent. This may be caused by inflammation (Appendicitis), causing spasms in the muscle.

  • Characteristics: These types of scoliosis can occur at any time. Since it is dependant on the functional condition of the spinal cord at that time, there will be no need to treat the spinal cord itself.
  • Treatment: Maximum treatment procedures are concerned with correcting the functional condition, which led to the development of such scoliosis. For example, the one caused by inflammation is healed when Appendicitis is treated.

Is scoliosis a disability?

According to the Blue-Book-Listing 1.04 aimed at benefits associated with Social-Security-disability, people with scoliosis problems are eligible.

Certain associated-symptoms are required to be explicitly exhibited and certified by a registered orthopedic-specialist. They are

  • Proving that Scoliosis condition prevents the person from performing his/her regular functions and s/he is unable to work.
  • Limitation of motion accompanied by pain, motor-loss, etc.
  • Inability to sit/rest in a particular posture for more than 2-3 hours, chronic disk-pain, etc.
  • Medical-Vocational-Allowance considerations.

Scoliosis FAQ

How do I determine whether I have Scoliosis?

Most of the time, you may feel consistent back-ache, which refuses to go away.

You may also experience shoulder pain of the same intensity. It may be caused by a lack of exercise, excessive fatty or acidity-causing food and beverages (especially alcohol), etc.

If you are experiencing any such sort of pains, wait for a couple of days and try out simple medications to get rid of your acidity or related problems.

If the pain still persists:

Take a look at your standing posture, in front of a life-size mirror, or you can even expose your back portion to one of your family members (friends) and ask them to tell you any abnormal deviation of the spinal cord from its normal position.

The best way is to consult your physician and ask him to complete your spinal cord analysis.

He will be able to point out your problem accurately.

What are the treatment options which I have?

Physical-Therapy is the most preferred method because it involves non-invasive methods of treatments.

Moreover, the methods naturally try to bring the spinal-cord back to its normal position.

The effects are said to be long-lasting and without any significant negative-side-effects on your spinal-cord and your health.

Bracing is another method where your spinal-cord is set at the right angle with the help of an external device. You will have to wear this device most of the time during the day, or perhaps even during the night. The structure of the brace depends on the type of scoliosis and its intensity. However, it may not be possible to treat all types of scoliosis in this method. For example, Kyphosis is one such type.

Surgery is said to be the last suggested method. Even orthopedic experts have the same opinion. This is primarily due to the reasons that

  • Surgery involves restructuring /removal of certain key parts of your spinal cord. This may give relief in the initial stages. At later stages and in a longer duration, this may prove to be a disadvantage.
  • Surgery may result in permanent injury to critically functional parts of your spinal cord, making them permanently non-functional.
  • Surgery may make you carry the pain for a longer time in your life.
  • However, there are many cases where surgery is considered the only option because all the other available options have been evaluated /tried out and ineffective.

Who decides about my treatment method?

Obviously, it will be your physician/Orthopedic expert who is treating you for a long time.

What is the basic difference between congenital-scoliosis and idiopathic-scoliosis?

The former gets formed in the early/advanced stages pre-natal period. Some of them are said to be formed even within the embryo itself. The latter is said to form during childhood, teenage, adulthood, or old ages.

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