Scoliosis Research Society
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The Aging Spine

Scoliosis and Other Spine Deformities


Kyphosis is a forward bending of the spine which produces a roundback deformity. Some people have postural kyphosis, which is not rigid. Others have a more rigid or structural type of kyphosis. Pre-existing Scheuermann kyphosis (which can be made worse by superimposed compression fractures) is frequently responsible for this deformity. However, multiple compression fractures alone can produce the deformity due to collapsed vertebrae, as is most commonly seen in older women with osteoporosis.

Symptoms and diagnosis
Back pain is the most common presenting symptom, but patients may also complain of increasing deformity and loss of height. X-rays, MRIs, CT scans are used to evaluate this deformity.

Current treatment consists of physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. If the patient has osteoporosis, this must be addressed as well. As mentioned previously, there are numerous medications now available (such as Calcitonin) which may decrease the pain but cannot correct the wedged bone or a significant spinal deformity. Braces may support the spine and decrease muscle spasm. If there is any doubt as to the underlying cause of the compression fractures, a biopsy may be necessary to rule out tumors, infection or other conditions. If these conservative measures do not help, surgery may be necessary to control pain and improve deformity or decompress nerve roots. Kyphoplasty may be of value in these conditions, but more extensive fusion with instrumentation may be necessary to achieve treatment goals.

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