Lumbar scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs in the lower back. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but can be severe if the curvature begins to affect the heart and the lungs. Scoliosis can also cause misalignment in bones of the body and chronic pain in the back. Scoliosis is monitored closely to prevent serious complications. Treatments for scoliosis involve managing pain, or correcting curvature if necessary.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen can be used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with lumbar scoliosis. These medications should be taken under a doctor's supervision because they can cause significant side effects involving the heart, liver, kidneys and stomach.
A doctor may also recommend a corticosteroid injection into the lumbar spine. Corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory medications that can reduce pain and inflammation caused by lumbar scoliosis. These injections are performed under live X-ray, termed flouroscopy. A patient can have no more than four injections in a six to 12 month period.
Regular back exercises can help lumbar scoliosis. A doctor may prescribe physical therapy to treat the condition. A physical therapist can help the patient stretch muscles in the back, which can help correct the curvature of the spine. Once flexibility is achieved, exercises can be performed to strengthen the muscles in the back. This will prevent the lumbar spine from curving over the long-term. Exercises must be performed regularly to be effective.
Surgery may be necessary in severe scoliosis. In particular, a surgeon will likely suggest a spinal fusion. A spinal fusion involves the insertion of rods and screws into the backbones in order to fuse the backbones together. This prevents the spine from curving. Although a spinal fusion is an appropriate treatment for severe scoliosis, complications include bleeding, infection, pain, nerve damage or improper bone healing. Furthermore, future surgery may be required years later to remove rods and screws if they cause pain in the patient. Thus, a patient should maintain close contact with his doctor and let her know if he begins to experience complications from scoliosis surgery.