Adult Scoliosis and Spine Deformity
When a spinal deformity is discovered in an adult, it is often quite different from a deformity in a child or adolescent. The goals for treatment are often different as is the location, type and severity of the spine deformity. Scoliosis is a side-ward curving of the spine, while kyphosis is characterized by a forward curve that hunches the back. Lordosis, also known as “swayback”, is an over pronounced curve in the low back (lumbar spine) and is characterized by a visible arch in the low back. This can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain.
We are a team committed to the highest quality of care in diagnosing and treating spine deformity for pediatrics and adults. Our goal is to get each patient “back to normal”— physically, functionally and cosmetically.
Dr. Richard Francis
Dr. Richard Francis is one of the few, select surgeons in the nation who performs scoliosis revision and reconstruction surgery on those who have had unsuccessful treatment in the past. Dr. Francis is a fellowship-trained, board-certified spine surgeon and has extensive experience treating sciatica. Spine Associates offers accurate diagnosis and advanced treatment for a variety of spinal conditions.
Curvatures and deformity in adult spines, have various classes and causes. Some of the most common causes are:
- Untreated or undetected adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
- Degenerative disease in the spinal column
- Osteoporosis (weak “brittle bones”)
- Leg length discrepancy (one leg is longer than the other)
- Previous trauma or fracture in vertebrae
- Previous failed spine surgeries
Unlike teenagers with spinal deformity who rarely complain of pain, adult patients with deformity present with a variety of symptoms:
- Back pain and stiffness
- Physical deformity and nerve compression
- Weakness and leg pain, especially upon standing
- Numbness or shooting pain in the leg(s)
Specific symptoms can be different in location and severity, depending upon the condition causing the spinal deformity.
Dr. Francis is highly experienced in diagnosing the causes of adult spinal deformities and other spinal disorders as well as providing both surgical and non-surgical care. Full -length standing x-rays are essential in the diagnostic evaluation of adults with spinal deformity. Advanced imaging studies (i.e. MRI or CT myelography) may be needed to assess patients with lower extremity symptoms or other neurologic signs or symptoms.
Dr. Francis takes a conservative approach by recommending non-surgical treatments whenever possible. For milder cases, physicians may recommend conservative (i.e. nonsurgical) treatment such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. If the symptoms become debilitating or the pain becomes intolerable despite conservative treatment, surgery to straighten and fuse the spine may become necessary. Treatment options for an adult spine deformity may include one or a combination of the following:
- Modified physical activity/medication
- Physical therapy
- Interventional pain management
- Robotic-Assisted spine surgery when symptoms persist or are severe
- Adult Reconstructive Spine Surgery
“Even after years of practice, I still get excited when I see the change in our patients on the first visit after surgical correction.”
-Richard R.M. Francis, MD