Lumbar scoliosis affects the lower portion of your spine. Severe cases may cause back pain, balance difficulties, and changes in your posture. Treatment can help you manage these symptoms.
Your spine is divided into three main sections:
- cervical (top)
- thoracic (middle)
- lumbar (lower)
A scoliosis curve can develop in any section of the spine. When a curve develops in the lower lumbar section, it is known as lumbar scoliosis.
This article reviews the causes, treatment, and outlook for people with lumbar scoliosis.
Scoliosis is a spinal condition that causes a curvature of the spine. A scoliosis curve can occur in any location along the spine. One primary way of classifying scoliosis curves is by the section of the spine they affect.
Lumbar scoliosis affects the lower section or lower back portion of your spine. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Some people with this condition might not experience any symptoms, while others may experience:
- back pain
- posture changes
- changes in walking
- trouble with balance
- uneven hips and shoulders
- a visible curve or twist in the back
It’s possible to have scoliosis in multiple areas of the spine. A person might have lumbar scoliosis and scoliosis in mid (thoracic) or upper (cervical) areas of the spine.
The location or locations of your scoliosis curve can affect the treatment plan your doctor develops.
It’s possible for anyone to develop lumbar scoliosis. Often, the cause of lumbar scoliosis is unknown. This is called idiopathic scoliosis.
However, some people are at greater risk for lumbar scoliosis. This includes people who have:
- cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and certain other neuromuscular conditions can weaken the muscles that support the spine
- sustained spinal injuries
- any degeneration in their spinal discs and tissues
- a family history of degenerative scoliosis
- undergone previous back surgery
- had tumors on their spines
- had congenital conditions that affect spinal growth
In adults, factors such as smoking and working a physically demanding job can also increase the risk of degenerative scoliosis. Degenerative scoliosis frequently affects the lumbar (lower) spine.
There are multiple treatment options for lumbar scoliosis. The most appropriate treatment option depends on the location and severity of your scoliosis and how it affects your daily life. Options might include:
- Observation: Mild scoliosis is sometimes treated with simple observation. You’ll have regular imaging scans of your spine to ensure the curve isn’t getting worse, but your doctor won’t order any other treatments. This approach is typically for people who have no symptoms and who show no signs their scoliosis is progressing.
- Bracing: Children and adolescents with lumbar scoliosis often wear braces during periods of growth. Braces can support the spine and can prevent curves from worsening.
- Lifestyle changes: For some adults with scoliosis, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, achieving and maintaining a moderate weight, and adding stretching and low-impact exercises to a daily fitness routine can help relieve symptoms of lumbar scoliosis.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy sessions can help treat the symptoms of lumbar scoliosis by improving balance, strength, and stability.
- Medications: Pain-relieving medications can help manage the symptoms of lumber scoliosis.
- Nerve-blocking injections: Nerve-blocking injections can treat pain that isn’t helped by pain-relieving medications.
- Surgery: Spinal fusion surgery can help correct lumbar scoliosis by straightening and stabilizing the spine. It’s typically reserved for people with large spinal deformities that are affecting gait and balance, and increasing fall risk. Surgery is also an option for people who can’t get relief from other treatments.
There’s no cure for lumbar scoliosis, but the condition can often be managed with treatment.
Although there is a risk of complications, such as nerve damage, especially if lumbar scoliosis progresses, treatment can help many people avoid these complications and allow for a full and active life.
The exact outlook for each person with lumbar scoliosis varies depending on the specific curve of their spine and the severity of their symptoms. A doctor can help you get a more specific idea of what to expect from your scoliosis as you age.
Lumbar scoliosis affects the lower portion of the spine. This form of scoliosis can cause symptoms such as changes in posture, back pain, difficulty with balance, and visible twist or curve in the spine.
Anyone can develop this condition, and there is often no known cause. However, there are some risk factors, including previous spinal injury, spinal degeneration, and having neuromuscular conditions.
Treatment can help manage symptoms of lumbar scoliosis and prevent it from progressing.