Spinal Deformity

Neurosurgical Specialists of West County

Neurosurgeons located in Saint Louis, MO

Spinal deformities appear in children and teens, and include kyphosis and scoliosis. If you or a loved one has one of these conditions or some form of spinal curvature, Neurosurgical Specialists of West County in St. Louis offers expert diagnosis and care. You can live a full, active life with certain spinal deformities, although you may notice back pain as you get older. Find out about your treatment options for a spinal deformity by calling today.

Spinal Deformity Q & A

What are spinal deformities?

A healthy spine is slightly curved to provide flexibility while carrying your body’s weight. Spinal deformities are abnormal curves in your spine that throw its natural shape out of alignment.

Spinal deformities come in a variety of forms, including:


  • Kyphosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Lordosis
  • Flatback syndrome
  • Chin-on-chest syndrome
  • Segmentation abnormalities


You may be born with congenital spinal deformities, or they may be caused by tumors, infections, or age-related degeneration. For example, scoliosis is known to run in families. Sometimes these deformities arise for no known reason, or what doctors refer to as idiopathic causes.

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis causes an abnormal rounding of your upper back. Severe cases may cause a hunchback appearance.


Although kyphosis can occur at any age, it’s common in adolescence. The condition typically 

causes few problems and doesn’t need treatment. However, a severe case of kyphosis can cause:


  • Pain
  • Significant spinal deformity
  • Breathing problems


With severe kyphosis, your doctor at Neurosurgical Specialists of West County may recommend surgery to help minimize the excessive curvature and relieve your symptoms.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves sideways. The condition may appear in children and adolescents, and in most cases doesn’t prevent children from living full, active lives. 


Scoliosis comes in different forms, including idiopathic, congenital, and neuromuscular.

Idiopathic scoliosis

Idiopathic means unknown cause. Doctors don’t know for sure what causes 80%-85% of scoliosis cases, but the condition tends to run in families.

Congenital scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis is when you’re born with the condition, usually because one or more vertebrae don’t form completely or separate properly in the womb. This form of scoliosis may be linked to heart and kidney problems.

Neuromuscular scoliosis

Medical conditions affecting your nerves or muscles can lead to scoliosis. Cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy are common neuromuscular conditions that can lead to scoliosis. 


Although adolescent scoliosis generally doesn’t cause back pain, larger curves can be uncomfortable. With age, more severe curves can produce back pain.

Adult degenerative scoliosis 

This condition occurs in adults and progresses as a result of gradually worsening degenerative disease (like arthritis).  This can result in nerve root or spinal cord compression or may cause severe difficulty walking or standing with normal balance for any length of time.

How are spinal deformities treated?

Treatment depends on your specific condition and the severity of the deformity, among other factors. Your doctor at Neurosurgical Specialists of West County may first recommend conservative treatments, such as a back brace, before suggesting surgery. 

Spinal fusion surgery can correct spinal deformities. The procedure involves removing bone and fusing vertebrae together to correct the spinal curvature. For example, with scoliosis, your surgeon may fuse together multiple vertebrae to correctly align your spine.

To learn more about your treatment options for spinal deformities, call Neurosurgical Specialists of West County today.