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Spinal Deformity

Treating Abnormalities of the Spine

Spinal deformities refer to unnatural curvatures of the spine resulting from damage to the spinal column, such as damage caused by fractures or ankylosing spondylitis (Bechterew’s disease), or various defects and congenital conditions that cause the spine to grow unevenly.

Common conditions or defects that result in spinal deformity include:

  • Scoliosis – Characterized by a side to side curvature of the spine, scoliosis may not have noticeable symptoms until it progresses. While bracing may be effective, surgery is often used to correct severe curvature, especially when it impacts a person’s mobility.
  • Kyphosis – The term kyphosis is used to describe excess forward curvature in the upper back (thoracic spine), although it can also sometimes affect the neck (cervical spine) or lower back (lumbar). Kyphosis can create an appearance that a person is hunched forward, and in severe cases can lead to fatigue, back pain, breathing difficulties, and difficulty with standing upright. Depending on the nature of the condition and its severity, kyphosis can be treated with non-surgical methods, including physical therapy, or surgery to re-align the spine and prevent deformity from progressing.
  • Spondylolisthesis – Spondylolisthesis is a disorder involving a vertebra that slips over the bone below it. It can cause spinal deformity and back or sciatica nerve pain and weakness that limits a person’s activity level, including walking. Surgery may be used to treat severe grades of slippage or patients who do not find pain relief or improved motion through non-surgical treatment.

Treating Spinal Deformity

Treating a spinal deformity will always depend on the underlying problem unique to the patient being treated, which is why our specialists closely evaluate patients and utilize advanced diagnostic tools to address the root of their symptoms. In many cases, patients may not experience pain as a result of the deformity, but may experience a severe restriction in movement, activity level and weakness. In other cases, the underlying condition that causes deformity may also cause severe and chronic pain.

When an underlying condition does not respond to non-surgical treatment methods, including pain management, physical therapy, and exercise, spine surgery may be recommended. Although cases vary, surgery focuses largely on restoring the spine to its normal position, preventing progression of deformity, alleviating pain, and improving motion. Spinal fusion is a common surgical procedure used to treat conditions and problems that lead to spinal deformity.

Get Started by Finding an Orange County Spine Doctor

From patient evaluations and diagnostic testing to conservative treatment and surgical procedures, the Center for Spine at Hoag Orthopedic Institute is able to leverage the experience of our spine doctors, nurses, and experts to offer the comprehensive care patients need to improve their quality of life and navigate their recoveries.

If you wish to learn more about treating spinal deformity, browse our physician directory to find a spine surgeon.

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