The spine consists of an elegant stack of vertebrae and disks, which appear straight from the front and curved from the side, to keep the body erect and the head level. An abnormal curve in your spine, such as scoliosis or kyphosis, is known as a spinal deformity. It can affect your spine's ability to do its job, leading to pain, neurological problems, and mobility challenges. Spinal deformities can occur for a wide range of reasons, including birth defects, aging and degeneration, to trauma.
When the spine becomes weak or deformed, the rest of the body reacts. Muscles strain, lungs pump harder, and simple functions (such as walking) become difficult. The Yale Medicine Spine Center offers neurosurgery, orthopedics, pain management and physical therapy to patients, depending on their needs. "It's a team-based approach, which is different from physicians who are just focused on their own practice," says neurosurgeon Joseph Cheng, MD.