Standing Tall - Treatment Option for Scoliosis

Abnormal Curvature of the Spine

Image of Karen Benedix and her husband taking a walkA normal spine, when viewed from behind, appears straight. However, a spine affected by scoliosis shows a side-to-side curvature, with the spine looking like an "S" or "C." Scoliosis occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. In most cases, the cause is unknown. In other cases, scoliosis may develop as a result of breakdown of the spinal discs, as seen with arthritis, osteoporosis, or as a hereditary condition that runs in families.

Signs of scoliosis may include:

  • One shoulder higher than the other
  • One shoulder blade sticking out farther
    than the other
  • An uneven waistline
  • Hems hanging unevenly on you

While most cases are mild with few symptoms, severe scoliosis can be painful and disabling and may require surgery. A new surgical approach, now available to patients in Michiana, helps stabilize a patient’s spine and reduce or remove pain by joining two or more vertebral bones to prevent movement – also known as spinal fusion.

During the procedure, which typically involves two surgeries over the course of a week, bone grafts are inserted between vertebrae to encourage new bone growth and fuse the spinal bones together. Screws, rods, and connectors are also implanted along the spine forming an "internal cast" to support the vertebrae and redirect stress during the healing and fusing process.

“The techniques we are using for spinal deformity [scoliosis] surgery are less invasive and allow for faster recovery,” said neurosurgeon Rafeek Woods, MD. “Unlike traditional techniques which relied on removing parts of the bony spinal column to correct the deformity, in the majority of cases we are now able to restore normal anatomy by re-establishing normal disc spaces.”

For the last 30 years of her life, 68-year-old Karen Benedix couldn’t remember a time when her back didn’t hurt. However, in the last three years the pain had become increasingly worse. So much so, that she had trouble walking any distance and could no longer perform everyday chores around the house, such as laundry or dishes. Tired of living her life in pain, she sought the help of Dr. Woods at Lakeland Neurosurgery.

“Before my surgery I was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight – that’s all gone now. Everyone needs to know what a great surgeon Dr. Woods is. I’m so thankful this procedure is available in our area and that I was able to remain close to home.”

Read Karen's Story

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