Degenerative Lumbar Scoliosis
When most people think of scoliosis they think of teenagers, particularly girls. While adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is one common form of scoliosis, there are other types. Degenerative lumbar, or de novo adult, scoliosis is a spinal deformity that typically develops in individuals over 50 years old. Although its cause is not completely understood, it seems to result from the asymmetric degeneration (breakdown) of the spine. As its name implies, degenerative lumbar scoliosis preferentially affects the lumbar (lower) spine, although occasionally the lower part of the thoracic (middle) spine is also involved.
Individuals with degenerative lumbar scoliosis may have no symptoms of the deformity, have mild complaints, or be severely disabled. Common complaints include back pain that is worst with sitting or standing and that usually goes away when the person lies down, electric shock-like pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs, or a combination of these symptoms.
The size of the scoliosis may be relatively small or it may be quite large. Studies have shown that, in general, degenerative lumbar scoliosis is a progressive deformity and that the curve may increase in size by between 2 and 6 degrees per year. It is not unusual for patients to have a small scoliosis that is discovered incidentally while evaluating other symptoms.
The treatment of an individual with degenerative lumbar scoliosis depends on many factors and may include physical therapy, epidural or nerve root injections, a laminectomy, or a spinal fusion procedure. Bracing is occasionally recommended for a short period of time but does not play a significant role in the treatment of degenerative lumbar scoliosis.