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Operative Scoliosis Treatment Linked to Less Leg Pain

Last Updated: July 24, 2009.

Surgical treatment of scoliosis in adults may lead to better improvement of leg pain than non-operative treatment, according to research published in the July 15 Spine.

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical treatment of scoliosis in adults may lead to better improvement of leg pain than non-operative treatment, according to research published in the July 15 Spine.

Justin S. Smith, M.D., of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and colleagues analyzed data from 208 adults with scoliosis and leg pain who were managed either operatively or non-operatively. Researchers assessed whether surgery offered better improvement of leg pain.

The researchers found that patients treated surgically had higher leg pain and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores at baseline. However, these patients had significant improvement in leg-pain score on a scale of zero to 10 (2.2 at two years versus 5.4 at baseline) and improvements in ODI score (24 versus 41). Patients in the non-operative group didn't have a significant change in either score. At two-year follow-up, surgically treated patients' mean leg pain score of 2.2 was lower than non-surgically treated patients' score of 3.8, and their mean ODI score was also lower (24 versus 31).

"Leg pain is a common finding among adults presenting with spinal deformity, and its magnitude correlates with a greater degree of disability. Despite having started with significantly greater leg pain and disability, operatively treated patients at two-year follow-up had significantly less leg pain and disability than non-operatively treated patients. While we do not necessarily advocate surgically treating all adult patients with scoliosis who have leg pain, our data demonstrate the potential of surgical treatment to provide significant relief of leg pain," the authors conclude.

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