Scoliosis, a spinal deformity characterized by a curved spine, affects millions of people worldwide, both young and old. Traditionally, the treatment options have been limited, with spinal fusion surgery being the gold standard. However, in recent years, new non-fusion treatments have emerged, offering alternative options for spinal correction. These emerging treatments, such as vertebral body tethering, the ScoliSMART Activity Suit, and ApiFix, provide patients with less invasive and more flexible approaches to treating the condition. In this blog, we will explore these new emerging scoliosis treatments, compare them to traditional treatment methods, and discuss the future of scoliosis treatments.

emerging scoliosis treatments

Understanding Scoliosis

Before delving into the new treatments, let’s first gain a better understanding of scoliosis itself. The condition is characterized by a curved spine. The curvature of the spine can vary severity, and it may manifest as an “S” or “C” shape. Scoliosis can affect people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed during adolescence. It can cause physical discomfort, limited mobility, and even respiratory issues in severe cases. Now, let’s explore the different types of scoliosis.

Types of Scoliosis

There are several types of scoliosis, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common type is idiopathic scoliosis, which has no known cause. Idiopathic scoliosis often develops during adolescence and is referred to as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Other types of scoliosis include neuromuscular scoliosis, which is caused by abnormal muscles or nerves, and degenerative scoliosis, which occurs in adults due to wear and tear on the spine. Congenital scoliosis is present at birth, and functional scoliosis is a curve caused by an abnormality elsewhere in the body.

Causes of Scoliosis

While the exact causes of scoliosis are still not fully understood, there are several factors that can contribute to the development of the condition. In most cases, it is considered idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown. Genetics are thought to play a role in the development of idiopathic scoliosis, as it tends to run in families. Other causes of scoliosis include neuromuscular conditions, birth defects, injuries, abnormalities in the spinal bones, infections, and tumors.

Emerging Non-Fusion Scoliosis Treatments

While spinal fusion surgery has long been the mainstay treatment, recent advancements have introduced new non-fusion options. These emerging treatments aim to correct the spinal curvature without fusing the vertebrae together, allowing for greater mobility and future growth. Two of the most promising non-fusion techniques are vertebral body tethering and the use of Scoliosis Boot Camp with the ScoliSMART Activity Suit. Let’s explore each of these treatments in more detail.

Scoliosis Boot Camp with the ScoliSMART Activity Suit

One of the non-fusion treatment options is the ScoliSMART Activity Suit. The innovative Scoliosis Boot Camp treatment approach combines nutrient therapy, specific exercises, and corrective movements to promote spinal correction. Here are some key points:

  • The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is a non-invasive treatment option.
  • It is designed to be worn during the day to provide continuous correction of the spinal curvature.
  • The Scoliosis Boot Camp program is tailored to each individual’s spinal curve, ensuring personalized treatment.
  • The ScoliSMART Activity Suit helps improve posture, reduce back pain, and increase mobility.
ScoliSMART-treatment-for-scoliosis-in-teenagers

Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation phone or Zoom consultation online with a ScoliSMART physician. Visit the ScoliSMART BootCamp page and click the “Schedule Online” button at the top of the page. Then select the best date and time to connect with a physician. Schedule your consultation right here!

Anterior Scoliosis Correction Surgery (VBT)

Another non-fusion surgical option is anterior scoliosis correction (ASC) surgery, also known as vertebral body tethering (VBT). Unlike traditional fusion surgery, VBT is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to correct the curvature of the spine without fusing the vertebrae together. Here are some key points about ASC surgery:

  • VBT is performed through small incisions, which allows for faster recovery compared to traditional fusion surgery.
  • During the procedure, a flexible cord is placed inside the body, tethering the growth plates of the spine to gradually straighten the curve.
  • The advantage of future growth is preserved with VBT, making it an attractive option for adolescents with flexible curves.

Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT)

Vertebral body tethering (VBT) is a surgical technique that offers a non-fusion approach. This innovative procedure involves tethering the growth plates of the spine, allowing for gradual straightening of the curve. Here are some important points about VBT:

  • VBT is performed through small incisions, minimizing scarring and reducing the risk of complications.
  • The flexible cord used in VBT allows for correction of the curvature of the spine while preserving spinal mobility.
  • VBT is most suitable for adolescents with flexible curves, as it allows for future growth and development.
  • Patients who have undergone VBT surgery have reported less pain and a shorter recovery period compared to traditional fusion surgery.
Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT)

Application of ApiFix in Scoliosis Treatment

Another emerging non-fusion treatment option is the application of the ApiFix system. This innovative system offers a less invasive approach to corrective spine surgery. Here are some key points about the ApiFix system:

  • The ApiFix system is a minimally invasive treatment option, providing correction of the spinal curvature.
  • It involves the insertion of a single screw through small incisions, allowing for greater mobility compared to fusion surgery.
  • Patients who have undergone ApiFix treatment have reported less pain, faster recovery, and improved spinal flexibility.
  • The ApiFix system has gained FDA approval and is being utilized by spine specialists in the United States and Europe.

Traditional Scoliosis Treatments

While non-fusion techniques are gaining recognition in the field of treatment, traditional options such as spinal fusion and bracing still play a significant role. Spinal fusion surgery, which involves fusing the vertebrae together, is the most common surgical treatment. Bracing, on the other hand, is a non-surgical treatment option that aims to prevent the curve from progressing. Let’s delve deeper into these traditional treatment methods.

Brace and Observation

Spinal bracing is a non-surgical treatment method used to prevent the progression of the curves, particularly in growing children and adolescents. With the help of custom-made braces, the spine is held in a corrected position, allowing for continued growth while providing stability. Observational treatment, on the other hand, is recommended for small curves that are not expected to progress significantly. Regular checkups and monitoring the curve’s progression are the primary focus of observational treatment.

Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery has been the go-to treatment for severe curves that are expected to progress significantly. This surgical procedure involves fusing the vertebrae together, creating a solid bone mass that corrects the curvature of the spine. Spinal fusion surgery aims to halt the progression of the curve, provide immediate correction, and stabilize the spine. Recovery from fusion surgery can take several months, and it often requires extensive post-operative care and physical therapy.

Spinal Fusion Surgery

Comparing Fusion and Non-Fusion Techniques

Now that we have explored both the emerging non-fusion techniques and the traditional fusion options, let’s compare the efficiency and effectiveness of these treatment approaches. Both fusion and non-fusion techniques have their merits, and the choice between them depends on various factors, including the severity of the spine curve, the patient’s age, and the desired outcome. Let’s take a closer look at the nuances of these treatment methods.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

When considering treatment, the focus is on the efficiency and effectiveness of the chosen method in correcting the spinal curvature. Non-fusion techniques, such as vertebral body tethering and ApiFix treatment, have shown promising results, offering correction of the curvature while preserving mobility. Fusion surgery, on the other hand, provides immediate correction of the spinal curve, but it may limit future mobility. Evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of each treatment option is crucial to determining the most suitable approach for the individual patient’s needs.

Pros and Cons of Each Method

Each treatment method, whether fusion or non-fusion, comes with its own set of pros and cons. Fusion surgery, for instance, offers the advantage of immediate correction of the spinal curvature, but it may limit future mobility and require extensive post-operative care. Non-fusion techniques, such as vertebral body tethering and ApiFix treatment, present the benefit of preserving spinal mobility, but they may require long-term follow-up and monitoring. When choosing a treatment approach, patients and their families should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each method, weighing factors such as pain, operating room time, and recovery time.

Pros and Cons of Each Method

Patient Experiences with Emerging Treatments

When it comes to emerging scoliosis treatments, hearing about the experiences of other patients can provide valuable insights. Many individuals who have undergone non-fusion techniques, such as vertebral body tethering and ApiFix treatment, have shared their success stories, highlighting the positive impact these treatments have had on their lives. These individuals have reported improved posture, increased mobility, reduced pain, and enhanced overall well-being. The growing number of success stories is a testament to the effectiveness of the emerging scoliosis treatments.

Success Stories of Non-Fusion Techniques

Success stories of non-fusion emerging scoliosis treatments, such as vertebral body tethering and ApiFix, are inspiring many patients and their families. These success stories highlight the potential of non-fusion techniques in achieving better results while preserving mobility and future growth. Patients who have undergone these treatments have experienced improved posture, reduced pain, and increased confidence. Their success serves as a testament to the effectiveness of these emerging scoliosis treatments, offering hope and a brighter future for patients.

Future of Scoliosis Treatments

As we look ahead, the future of emerging scoliosis treatments holds exciting possibilities. Technological advancements continue to drive innovation in the field, leading to the development of more refined treatment options. The use of advanced imaging techniques, the development of cutting-edge surgical tools, and the implementation of artificial intelligence are just some of the many recent advancements shaping the future of treatment. These technological innovations have the potential to revolutionize the way the condition is diagnosed, monitored, and treated, offering even more personalized and effective solutions to patients.

Technological Innovations and Their Impact

In recent years, technological innovations have significantly impacted the field of treatment. Advanced imaging techniques, such as 3D spinal visualization, have revolutionized the way spine specialists diagnose and monitor the curvature. These technologies allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the spinal deformity, helping spine specialists tailor treatment plans to individual patients. By harnessing the power of visualization, spine specialists can make informed decisions, further improving patient outcomes and overall treatment efficacy.

What are some of the latest emerging scoliosis treatments?

Some of the latest emerging scoliosis treatments include specific exercise programs, spinal tethering, and vertebral body stapling. These treatments aim to correct the curvature of the spine and provide a less invasive alternative to traditional spinal fusion surgery.

some of the latest emerging scoliosis treatments

Are These New Treatments Right for You?

When considering all options, it is essential to consult with a spine specialist who can guide you in choosing the right approach for your specific condition. Factors such as the curvature of the spine, mobility, future growth potential, and overall health must be taken into consideration. Treatment decisions should be made through open and informed discussions with the spine specialist, ensuring that the chosen treatment approach aligns with the patient’s goals, values, and preferences.

Considerations When Choosing a Treatment Approach

Choosing the right treatment approach involves considering various factors. The curvature of the spine, the patient’s mobility, future growth potential, and overall health are all crucial considerations. Additionally, the impact of the chosen approach on adulthood, posture, and quality of life should also be taken into account. Open communication and collaboration between the patient, their family, and the spine specialist are essential in determining the most suitable approach.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are several emerging scoliosis treatments that offer promising results and advantages over traditional methods. These approaches, such as the ScoliSMART Activity Suit, Anterior Scoliosis Corrective Surgery (VBT), and Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT), provide a more personalized and less invasive approach to spinal correction. They offer faster recovery times, improved flexibility, and reduced risk of complications compared to spinal fusion surgery. However, it’s important to consider individual factors and consult with a specialist to determine the most suitable option for each patient. As technology continues to advance, we can expect further innovations, providing even more effective and patient-friendly solutions in the future.