Congenital spine deformities are disorders of the spine that develop in an individual prior to birth. The vertebrae do not form correctly in early fetal development and in turn cause structural problems within the spine and spinal cord. These deformities can range from mild to severe and may cause other problems if left untreated, such as developmental problems with the heart, kidneys and urinary tract, problems with breathing or walking, and paraplegia (paralysis of the lower body and legs).
Medical researchers are still unsure of what actually causes the defects responsible for congenital spine deformities. In these disorders, the vertebrae are often missing, fused together and/or misshapen or partially formed.
An individual may have one or more types of congenital spine deformities.
Three Of The More Commonly Known Types Include:
● Kyphosis – a bowed or rounded back
● Scoliosis – curvature and/or twisting of the spine to one side
● Lordosis – sway back
Symptoms of Congenital Spine Deformities:
Doctors often detect any spine deformity at birth if there is any abnormal curvature in the back. However, some spine deformities until later in childhood and/or adolescence when symptoms worsen. Physical signs of congenital spine deformities typically include:
● Tilted pelvis
● Difficulty walking
● Difficulty breathing
● Abnormal curvature or twisting in the back, left or right, forward or backward
● Uneven shoulders, hips, waist or legs
In most cases, nonoperative treatment options are recommended before surgery is considered. Nonoperative treatment options typically include pain medication, certain braces and physical therapy (that includes gait and posture training).
Surgery Is Considered If:
● The spinal deformity is progressing
● The condition has caused unbearable physical deformity
● The patient experiences chronic pain that cannot be relieved by nonoperative treatment options
● The condition has caused compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord
The ultimate goal of surgery is to align and stabilize the spine, as well as, to relieve the patient’s pain. Spinal deformities will vary from patient to patient. Thus, no two surgical treatments will ever be the same. Your surgeon will be able to determine what the best treatment will be for your specific situation.
For a more detailed explanation of nonoperative treatment options and surgical procedures that may be required to treat your congenital spinal deformity, make an appointment with one of our surgeons today.