About 3 million new cases of scoliosis are diagnosed each year in the United States, often just prior to puberty in children 10 to 12 years old. Affecting about 2-3 percent of the population, scoliosis is characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine that’s been linked to chronic pain during the adult years. Considered a manageable condition, scoliosis presents itself in many ways. The trusted Los Angeles spine surgeons from The Spine Institute discuss two of most common forms of the condition—levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis.
What’s the Difference Between Levoscoliosis and Dextroscoliosis?
If the spine develops a C or S-shaped curvature that goes to the left, it’s referred to as levoscoliosis. Affecting nearly 90 percent of children diagnosed with scoliosis, a right-side curvature known as dextroscoliosis is more common. Symptoms associated with both levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis include:
- Respiratory or lung issues
- Chronic spine pain
- Deformities affecting ribs due to compression from the spine
- Numbness and similar symptoms related to nerve compression
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
What Causes Levoscoliosis and Dextroscoliosis?
It’s possible for any form of scoliosis to develop at any stage of life, although it’s more common for the condition to be congenital (present at birth) or to present itself during childhood development. Some children develop a form of levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis classified as juvenile scoliosis if it develops between the ages of 3 and 9 or before adolescence. Possible causes and contributing factors associated with scoliosis may include:
- Age-related spinal degeneration
- Spine-related injuries or tumors
- Genetic abnormalities
- Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other neuromuscular conditions
- Connective tissue disorders
How Are These Forms of Scoliosis Diagnosed?
After an initial physical exam that may include a bend test to visually observe the nature of the curvature, a positive diagnosis of levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis is typically made with image testing. Image tests also allow for the degree of the left or right curvature to be determined. Additional testing may include neurological exams to check for related muscle weakness.
What Are the Possible Treatment Options?
If levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis is mild and not causing any significant discomfort, the only treatment may be periodic observation to monitor the degree of the curvature. The risk of progression lessens when children reach bone maturity age. Some patients, especially those at a point where growth is still occurring, benefit from the use of a soft or firm brace. Treatment may also involve:
- Therapeutic exercises to strengthen nearby muscle groups
- Gentle stretches to ease nerve pressure
- 20-30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 days a week to reduce the odds of experiencing respiratory issues
- Minimally invasive procedures or fusion surgery to stabilize the spine if other treatment options aren’t effective
Some parents of children with levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis may wonder if heavy backpacks are to blame. However, abnormal spinal curvature hasn’t been specifically linked to excess upper back pressure. In fact, there’s often no clear cause of scoliosis. Approximately 30 percent of patients need to wear braces because of these conditions, and around 10 percent require surgery. Also, most patients respond well to non-surgical treatment when scoliosis is diagnosed and treated early.
Get in touch with The Spine Institute today if you’d like to learn about the options for fusion surgery or the various alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles patients can call 310-828-7757 to schedule an in-person evaluation.