Lead Author(s): 

Michael D. Daubs, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

The normal spine viewed from the side forms a gentle "S" shape. When viewed from the back, the normal spine appears straight. The naturally occurring soft curves of the spine are designed to distribute mechanical stress in the body when at rest and during movement. When the curvature is even slightly abnormal, a person may experience occasional mild or annoying discomfort. If the curve is severely abnormal, the pain is usually severe and accompanied by disability. Scoliosis occurs in both children, where it is generally idiopathic, and adults, where it is often acquired.

In 2013, there were nearly 2 million healthcare visits with a diagnosis of scoliosis, the majority of which 1.3 million were to a physician’s office. However, 166,600 hospital discharges had a scoliosis diagnosis. The number of  hospital discharges with a scoliosis diagnosis has remained relatively steady for five years (2010 thru 2014) and represents approximately 56 persons in every 100,000 US population. Females accounted for three out of four (73%) of healthcare visits with a scoliosis diagnosis. (Reference Table 2B.2.0 PDF CSV and Table 2B.2.1 PDF CSV)


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