Adult Spinal Deformity / Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Adult spinal deformity_adult degenerative scoliosis

What is Adult Degenerative Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an acquired condition in which there is abnormal curvature or rotation of the spine. Adult degenerative scoliosis results from the asymmetric degeneration of the intervertebral discs, most commonly in the lumbar or thoracolumbar region.

Everyone experiences age-related deterioration of the spine. Fortunately, most of this deterioration does not cause any problems. Some patients develop enough degeneration that they experience pain from their muscles fighting the abnormal curvature or from nerve compression. Most patients with pain attributable to their degenerative scoliosis will improve with physical therapy, medications, or pain management injections. Very few patients require surgery to treat degenerative scoliosis.


The most common symptoms of adult degenerative scoliosis include:

  • Back pain that is made worse with physical activity
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both legs
  • Shooting pain in one or both legs

Symptoms typically come and go, often peaking towards the end of a long, busy day.


A physical examination and review of your medical history are the first steps in diagnosing adult degenerative scoliosis. Your doctor may observe your backbone, hips, and shoulders as you stand straight, bend forward, and bend to the sides to check for any visible abnormalities.

After completing the history and physical, if symptoms warrant it, additional imaging will be obtained which may include:

  • X-Ray
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT), possibly with myelogram

These medical imaging technologies allow your doctor to assess the neural elements (spinal cord and nerve roots), discs, vertebrae, and other supporting structures of your spine and correlate them with your symptoms.


A range of treatments are available for adult degenerative scoliosis. Physical therapy and pool therapy may help a patient regain strength and mobility. Anti-inflammatory medication and epidural steroid injections can treat swelling and inflammation.

If scoliosis has led to a narrowing of the spinal canal or spinal stenosis surgery may be necessary. Spinal stenosis puts pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves within the spine and may cause pain, weakness, numbness, problems with walking, or bowel and bladder dysfunction.

Surgical treatment for adult degenerative scoliosis is often a complex procedure involving multilevel nerve decompression, the removal of additional bone to loosen the spine and allow it to be reshaped, the removal of discs and insertion of cages or spacers to realign the spine, and pedicle screw fixation to hold the spine in a stable position while healing.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ditty to discuss your surgical options. Dr. Ditty and his team will guide you through the steps you need to take for pre-surgical preparation and post-surgical recovery, including nonsurgical lifestyle changes to prevent further compression issues.

Call (239) 337-2003 today to schedule a consultation or learn more.

Dr. Benjamin Ditty is one of the best surgeons I have ever met.  Besides being a great surgeon, he's very thorough, he explains everything and goes through everything. My experience with him has been great. He has helped me get my life back together and do things I couldn't do for the last 2 years. I highly recommend him to everybody I know that needs help - plus, he has one of the best surgical teams and places I have ever seen. When I had surgery at one of his places it was smooth and easy. Thumbs up Dr. Diddy, thank you very much.

Tom G.

Professional, personable and very knowledgeable. Dr. Ditty was very concerned that the patient was comfortable with the proposed treatment, and very thoroughly fully explained the procedure and expected outcomes.

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We were so fortunate to find Dr. Ditty. He performed major back surgery on my husband and he is now pain-free and on to recovery for the first time in many years. Dr. Ditty is one of the best and we are grateful for the great work that he did. Thank you, Dr. Ditty.

Taylor B.