Spinal Deformity: Aging Population


Lead Author(s): 

Beatrice J. Edwards, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

This report includes a range of deformity conditions that affect the spine. The most common spinal deformity in older adults is acquired through multiple vertebral fractures resulting in kyphosis. For each thoracic vertebral fracture, it is estimated there is an estimated decline of 7% in functional vital capacity1, which is compounded by additional fractures. Vertebral fractures are often clinically unrecognized, and may show merely as height loss. Nonetheless, vertebral fractures greatly increase the likelihood of future fractures and mortality.2,3

The most familiar spinal deformity condition is that of curvature of the spine, which includes scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis. In addition to curvature of the spine, other spinal deformity conditions include spondylolisthesis, spinal infections, complications of surgery, and spondylopathies. Of the 15.5 million health care visits for spinal deformity, 10.5 million had a diagnosis of spondylopathy, which refers to any disease of the vertebrae or spinal column associated with compression of peripheral nerve roots and spinal cord, causing pain and stiffness.

  • 1. Ability to breathe in and out with sufficient capacity to perform normal functions
  • 2. Lindsay R, Silverman SL, Cooper C, et al.: Risk of new vertebral fracture in the year following a fracture. JAMA 2001;285(3):320-323.
  • 3. Browner WS, Pressman AR, Nevitt MC, Cummings SR: Mortality following fractures in older women. The study of osteoporotic fractures. Arch Intern Med 1996;156(14):1521-1525.


  • 2014

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