Prevalence of Adult Scoliosis

Spinal Curvature

Lead Author(s): 

Adolfo Correa, MD, PhD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

The prevalence of adult spinal deformity and scoliosis is not well established, with estimates ranging from 2.5% to 25% of the population.1,2,3,4,5,6 A 2005 study reported mild to severe adult scoliosis prevalence as high as 68% in a healthy (no known scoliosis or spine surgery) population aged 60 years and older.7 Many cases of degenerative scoliosis are undiagnosed, but elderly patients often seek care because of back and leg pain that may be caused by scoliosis and associated spinal stenosis.

According to 2010 US Census Population Estimate, there were 235,205,658 people in the United States over the age of 18 years. Prevalence of adult scoliosis cited in the literature ranges from 2.5% to 60%, depending on severity. A conservative estimate (2.5%) of the prevalence of adult scoliosis yields an incidence of a minimum of 5.88 million adults in the United States with adult scoliosis. In 2010–2011, an estimated 1.61 million of these adults received treatment either as an inpatient or on an outpatient basis. (Reference Table 3.1.2 PDF CSV)
Prevalence of Primary Scoliosis Treatment Among Adults by Age, United States 2010/2011
Estimates for prevalence of lordosis or kyphosis as the primary diagnoses is approximately 17% of spine curvature diagnoses in hospital and emergency departments, with patient hospital discharges higher (23%). (Reference Table 3.2.2 PDF CSV)

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  • 3. Gupta M: Degenerative scoliosis: Options for surgical management. Ortho Clin North Am 2003;34:269-279.
  • 4. Carter OD, Haynes SG: Prevalence rates for scoliosis in U.S. adults: Results from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Int J Epidemiol 1987;16:537-544.
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  • 7. Schwab F, Dubey A, Galez L, et al: Adult scoliosis: Prevalence, SF-36, and nutritional parameters in an elderly volunteer population. Spine 2005;30:1082-1085.


  • 2014

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