The hydration of the centres of our spinal discs is maximum in early childhood. Thereafter throughout life all of our discs are drying out, and that is one of the reasons why we are all getting gradually shorter as we age.
Some spines, as they age, start to develop a curve or twist, termed “scoliosis”. Degenerative scoliosis or “de novo” scoliosis is a spinal curvature which develops as a person ages, and afflicts up to ten percent of people, although only a minority of those ever need surgery for it. Because the structural problem is often over six, eight or more vertebral levels, however, the surgery for correction of degenerative scoliosis is larger than other adult spinal surgeries. It frequently involves grafts inserted between the vertebrae in place of the discs, and screws placed into the vertebrae at six, eight or more levels, linked by rods.
Clearly one does not contemplate surgery of this magnitude unless there is severe and remitting pain, and/or actual or threatened neurological deterioration affecting the use of the limbs.
As for all his spinal surgery, Dr. Rosenberg is very “conservative”, meaning that he reserves surgery as a “last resort”, and is careful to explain the risks, benefits and failure rates to patients, and to allow them as much time as they require for their decision process.