Gary Alegre, MD
Orthopedic Spine Surgeon located in Stockton, CA
Spinal deformities such as scoliosis affect children and adults, taking a significant toll on their self-esteem, causing pain and, in severe cases, making it hard to breathe. As a spine specialist, Gary Alegre, MD, in Stockton, California, works closely with adolescents and adults who have only one treatment option: spinal deformity surgery. If you want to learn more about surgery to correct your spinal deformity, don’t wait to call or schedule an appointment online.
Spinal Deformity Surgery Q & A
What is a spinal deformity?
A spinal deformity refers to any abnormal curvature in your spine. If you could look at your spine from the side, you would see that it has three natural curves. These curves help absorb shock when you walk and ensure your head is positioned in proper alignment with your hip.
The two most common types of spinal deformities include:
From behind, your spine forms a straight line. When you have scoliosis, you have abnormal side-to-side curves that turn this straight line into the shape of a C or S.
Scoliosis most often appears during childhood or adolescence. Adults can also develop degenerative scoliosis due to conditions such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and osteoporosis.
Kyphosis occurs when your spine bends in the opposite direction than its normal curve. This type of deformity most often affects the upper back or thoracic spine. Though not common, kyphosis can also develop in your neck or cervical spine.
Cervical kyphosis tends to eliminate the curve and straighten your neck. Kyphosis in the thoracic spine causes a rounded hump in your upper back.
What symptoms indicate I may need spinal deformity surgery?
Scoliosis makes your body appear uneven. For example, the left and right sides of your body become uneven, one shoulder or hip may appear higher than the other, and your body may lean to one side.
Adolescent scoliosis seldom causes pain. Degenerative scoliosis often causes mild to severe pain from strained muscles, sprained ligaments, and pinched nerves.
In addition to a visibly rounded middle back, kyphosis typically causes pain, compresses the nerves, and limits movement.
What is spinal deformity surgery?
Wearing a brace is the initial treatment for children and adolescents whose bones are still growing. After your bones mature, however, the only treatment is surgery to correct the deformity.
Spinal deformity surgery generally includes decompression and fusion. Decompression procedures treat pinched nerves by giving them more space.
In most spinal deformity surgeries, Dr. Alegre uses rods to reposition and stabilize the vertebrae. Then he implants a bone graft to promote bone growth that merges the adjoining vertebrae and creates one solid bone.
Dr. Alegre recommends a specific type of surgery based on the severity of your symptoms, the number of vertebrae affected, and the type of deformity. He chooses from several different approaches and decompression techniques to ensure you get the best results.
If you need treatment for a spinal deformity, call Gary Alegre, MD, or schedule an appointment online.