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Scoliosis and Kyphosis

Scoliosis is a side-to-side curvature of the spine that results in the spine looking like an “S” or a “C” and the appearance that the person with scoliosis is leaning to one side. Scoliosis can occur in children or adults, although the causes are usually different. While scoliosis is not typically painful, the curvature can impact posture, walking speed and overall quality of life.

Treatment options for adult and pediatric scoliosis include observation, bracing, physical therapy, medications and surgery to straighten or strengthen the spine. The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Spine Center is one of seven centers around North America studying adult scoliosis patients treated either operatively or non-operatively. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has granted Washington University in St. Louis $2.5 million over five years for its participation in the study.

Dr. Keith Bridwell is the lead investigator of this study. Along with Dr. Jacob Buchowski, they are currently enrolling study patients. By comparing patient outcomes over time, they hope to determine the best way to treat adults with scoliosis.

Kyphosis is a forward curvature of the spine that results in an abnormally rounded or “humpback” appearance in the upper back. This spinal deformity can be present at birth or can develop over time due to metabolic problems, neuromuscular conditions, weak bones or poor posture.

Treatment options for kyphosis include observation and surgery. Surgery typically is recommended when the kyphosis measures 75 degrees or more and other non-operative measures have not slowed down the progression of the curve.

Physician Specialists – Scoliosis and Kyphosis

For a referral to a Washington University orthopedic spine surgeon or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 888.998.7218.

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