I am a piano teacher with scoliosis. I sit for long hours each day. By the end of the day, I am more twisted than ever and suffer a lot of pain. I don't want major surgery with long rods to hold my spine straight. But I was looking through the magazines in the orthopedic surgeon's office. I saw a little metal plunger unit that is supposed to hold two of the spine bones together without doing a fusion procedure. Could they use something like this for me?
There is an interspinous spacer on the market for the treatment of back pain from spinal stenosis that may eventually be approved for use with scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Interspinous means the spacers are placed between two spinous processes. Those are the bumps you feel along your back. They are knobs of bone that extend out from the vertebral bodies.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, the opening formed by the vertebral arches. This is where the spinal cord travels from the brain to the base of the spine. Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common problem in older adults (age over 65). Low back pain and/or leg pain/discomfort are the first signs of this problem.
Placing this device between the spinous processes keeps the spine from bending backwards. Right now, only one spacer has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That's the X-Stop. Its primary use is with spinal stenosis. Three others are being studied with the intent to seek FDA approval.
They are the Interspinous U (also called Coflex, the DIAM, and the Wallis system. The Interspinous U may have more uses than just spinal stenosis. The manufacturer says that it holds the spine stable in both flexion and extension and may be helpful with scoliosis. Right now, it has only been approved for investigational studies in humans.
It may be a while before effective products are ready to help stabilize scoliosis in adults without the major surgery needed to insert rods alongside the spine. But check with your surgeon and let him or her know of your interest. There may be something else that could help you in the interim.