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Causes of Degenerative Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a term defining an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. This condition commonly arises in children and adolescents during their skeletal development. However, in some cases, scoliosis can develop in adults with a previously straight spine. When this occurs, this condition is called “degenerative scoliosis” and refers to a deformity caused by the aging-related degeneration of the spine’s components.



Degenerative scoliosis is a progressive condition that can affect the facet joints and\or the intervertebral discs:

  • The facet joints are three-component joints attached to the spine’s bones (vertebrae), responsible for keeping the spine mobile and allowing movements, such as bending and twisting. Degeneration of the facet joints, often due to arthritis, can change how the spine moves and causes the bones to rub against each other during motion. 
  • Intervertebral discs are “cushions” of cartilage located between the vertebrae, which play the role of absorbing shock and reducing friction. As we age, these discs may lose hydration and flexibility, which can expose the vertebrae to shock and friction damage during movement. 

Changes in these spinal components may be more prominent on one side, which can lead to changes in the spine’s mechanics and abnormal curvatures. 

Here are the main causes of degenerative scoliosis.


The wear and tear associated with aging is the leading cause of degenerative scoliosis. As we age, the flexibility and shock-absorbing properties of the spine’s facet joints and intervertebral discs naturally decline, which leaves the spinal bones exposed to friction damage. Adults aged 50 and over are at greater risk of developing ADS, and the median age at which people develop degenerative scoliosis is 70.5 years.


Degenerative scoliosis is often caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, and spondylosis. These diseases often arise due to aging and cause the degeneration of the soft tissue (cartilage) between the joints. When areas of the cartilage break down, changes in the spine’s mechanics can cause weight to be distributed unevenly, creating spinal abnormalities.

Excessive Strain and Repeated Stress

Being involved in certain sports or occupational activities that put excessive stress on the spine can speed up the degeneration of some areas of the cartilage between the spine’s components. You may be at greater risk of developing degenerative scoliosis if you lift weights, practice poor posture, or perform manual labor.

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Symptoms of Degenerative Scoliosis

Most forms of scoliosis that arise in children and teens are asymptomatic. However, adult degenerative scoliosis may cause debilitating pain and a severe restriction of the spine’s movements. This is mostly because this condition arises alongside painful inflammatory conditions of the spine such as arthritis and spondylosis. 

Here are some of the telltale signs that you may be developing degenerative scoliosis.


Because of its inflammatory component, degenerative scoliosis may cause chronic pain that can be described as a dull ache. If the mechanical changes in the spine cause a nerve to become pinched or compressed, you may also experience shooting pain that radiates from your lower back to your buttocks and legs.

Physical Changes

One of the main symptoms of scoliosis is changes in the look of your spine and body. Because of the S-shaped, sideways curvature of the spine, you might notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Asymmetry of the shoulders
  • Uneven alignment of the hips
  • A visible curvature of the spine
  • One shoulder protruding more than the other
  • Ribs more visible on one side of the body
  • Height loss
  • The head is no longer centered or aligned with the spine

You may also start noticing that your clothes no longer fit properly.

Numbness and Muscle Weakness Due To Nerve Damage

An abnormal curvature of the spine can cause uneven pressure to the spinal cord and restrict the passageway of nerves connecting the brain to your body’s limbs and extremities. 

When the nerves in the spinal cord are compromised, they are unable to properly transmit signals relating to touch, temperature, vibration, and muscle movements to and from the brain. This may lead to a loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, spasms, and heaviness in the limbs. 

Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction

When the spinal cord is compressed by an abnormal curvature of the spine, autonomic nerves may become unable to send signals to the brain relating to autonomic functions such as bladder and bowel function. Over time, this can lead to severe nerve damage that can create disabling conditions or dysfunction. 

Regenerative Treatment Options for Degenerative Scoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis is a lifelong condition, and its symptoms are bound to intensify as the degeneration of the spinal components progresses. Because of this, pain-relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs cannot be considered long-term solutions. 

These pharmaceutical treatments might ease the pain you are experiencing in the short term. However, over time, they can lead to severe side effects such as increased tolerance or dependency. 

That’s why looking for a more sustainable treatment program that supports the body’s ability to heal itself naturally should be of paramount importance. Below, we’ll look at the regenerative orthopedic injection procedures combined at Orthagenex to offer each patient a tailored solution for degenerative scoliosis.

Super-Concentrated PRP for Degenerative Scoliosis

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) refers to autologous blood samples that have been processed to have platelet concentrations that are 10-40 times higher than baseline levels using a laboratory setting. The use of PRP in regenerative medicine has received significant interest, due to its ability to deliver high concentrations of growth factors precisely and non-invasively to an area in need.

PRP procedures involve injecting the body’s own healing factors (platelets) into the injured tissue using image guidance with fluoroscopy and MSK ultrasound. This procedure can be used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions, including joint instability, minor arthritis, ligament, and tendon injuries, and strains.

More than 30 randomized controlled trials have been carried out on the effectiveness of PRP to support the body’s ability to heal naturally by stimulating the stem cells within the targeted area.

Bone Marrow Concentrate Injections for Degenerative Scoliosis 

Stem cells are an essential component of the human body and play an important role in the repair of injured bones, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues. However, when we age or suffer an injury, the body may become unable to deliver enough stem cells to the area in need.

To help with this, bone marrow concentrate procedures at Orthagenex use imaging guidance to deliver concentrated bone marrow containing stem cells to the area in need. This encourages the body’s inherent ability to heal itself by replenishing cell population in the injured area.

In practice, bone marrow concentrate procedures are carried out by cannulating the bone near the pelvis with a trocar, a sharp-tipped device. This provides a narrow tunnel that can be used to collect samples of the bone marrow’s liquid component, which is rich in stem cells.

BMC procedures can assist patients in improving their spinal health and mobility without the lengthy and painful rehabilitation periods associated with surgery.


Receiving a diagnosis of spinal scoliosis in your 50s or 60s can be life-changing – but it does not have to be a condemnation to life with chronic pain. Thanks to regenerative medicine procedures, you can regain your spine health and mobility without medications or surgery. 

Thanks to the regenerative treatments offered at Orthagenex, patients can access a non-surgical and non-invasive approach to manage their pain and improve function. 

Now Available In:

Powder Springs, GA | New Lenox, IL

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