behrooz akbarnia
Behrooz Akbarnia M.D.
Board Certified
Ramin Bagheri M.D.
Board Certified
greg mundis
Gregory Mundis M.D.
Board Certified

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Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines
10666 North Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037

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Phone (858) 554-7988


Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Dr. Akbarnia is respected internationally as one of the most experienced spinal deformity surgeons. After more than 30 years of treating scoliosis patients, he still remains at the forefront of the specialty. The following article provides an overview of adult degenerative scoliosis, and describes the treatment options that Dr. Akbarnia and his team employ.

Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, is a condition many people associate only with adolescents. But adults can have scoliosis as well. Adult scoliosis is defined as abnormal curvature of the spine in a patient over the age of 18. Sometimes this is the result of a childhood curvature that was left untreated and has since progressed. If scoliosis occurs in an adult with no history of a childhood curvature, it is classified as adult degenerative (de novo) scoliosis.

Idiopathic scoliosis - curvature of the spine.

As we age, many changes occur to our bodies. This is especially true in the spine. When parts of the vertebral column begin to deteriorate, many people begin to experience significant back or neck pain. Common degenerative or aging spinal conditions include:

Any of the conditions outlined above can cause the spine to curve to the left or the right. This curvature is not only cosmetically troubling to many patients, it can also cause other problems such as:

The first, and highly important step, in treating adult degenerative scoliosis, is obviously to make an accurate diagnosis and assessment. At our practice we use a combination of tools and advanced diagnostic technologies:

Treatment of Adult Degenerative Scoliosis
Non-Operative Treatment

Most cases of adult scoliosis are treated using non-surgical methods. These may include:

Surgical Treatment
Surgical correction of adult degenerative scoliosis is not common. However, it may be necessary under the following conditions:

If surgery is necessary it will likely include some of the following elements:

We will carefully determine which type of surgery is best for your condition. Be assured that if surgery is necessary, all aspects of the procedure, including risks and benefits, will be fully explained to you ahead of time.

Keep in mind, many cases of adult scoliosis need no treatment at all. A "wait and watch" approach may be used to see if the curve progresses over time. In the meantime, it will be important for you to maintain your general and spinal health by exercising regularly to maintain flexibility and strength, eating right, not smoking, and learning correct body mechanics (posture, the correct way to carry heavy loads, etc.) These are the best ways to prevent further back problems.