In this section, we present some interesting facts and statistics about scoliosis. This is intended to be informative and to serve as an educational resource. Some of the statistics are controversial, and various scoliosis specialists have differing points of view. However, all of the statistics and data come from published, peer-reviewed scientific articles. For additional information, we encourage you to obtain the full text of the article online, or from your local university or library.
Scoliosis in Children
Scoliosis is the most common spinal deformity in school-age children. (Chiro & Osteo. 2005)
The total number of scoliosis cases in the United States is estimated to be greater than 4 million. (National Scoliosis Foundation)
Each year, 442,900 office visits, 133,300 hospital visits, and 17,500 emergency room visits are made by children with scoliosis. (HCUP-AHRQ 2011)
Approximately 29,000 scoliosis surgeries are performed on adolescents every year in the United States. (WJO 2015)
The average cost of a hospital stay for a child with scoliosis is $92,000 – over five times the national average of $17,500. (HCUP-AHRQ 2011)
Spinal deformity in children and adolescents accounts for the largest share (48%) of all musculoskeletal deformity health care visits – over 857,280 each year. (HCUP-AHRQ 2011)
Scoliosis in Adults
Scoliosis in the adult has an impact that is similar to other common medical conditions including osteoarthritis, coronary artery disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Overall, the burden of scoliosis on health-related quality of life is severe relative to other common medical conditions. With the aging demographic profile of the US, the burden of adult scoliosis is increasing and has a significant impact on the health of our population.
– Sigurd H. Berven MD, Matthew D. Hepler MD, Sylvia I. Watkins Castillo, PhD
Adults with scoliosis are more likely to require long-term care. (BAJB 2011)
Estimates of the direct costs of nonsurgical care in adult scoliosis (not including lost wages, time from work, cost of care providers, etc.) are estimated to be as high as $14,000 per year. (Spine 2010)
In 2011, 229,000 adults were hospitalized with scoliosis, at an approximate cost of $15.44 million. (BAJB 2011)
Scoliosis represents 20% of all spinal deformity cases in the United States, accounting for 1.2% of all hospital charges annually. (BAJB 2011)
The average hospital charge for an adult with scoliosis is approximately twice as high as the national average. (HCUP-AHRQ 2011)
74,000 emergency room visits are made each year by adults with scoliosis. (HCUP-AHRQ 2011)
Incidence of Scoliosis among Vision/Hearing-Impaired Populations
Vision-impaired individuals have a 5 times greater incidence of scoliosis. (Visual deficiency and scoliosis, Spine 2001)
Hearing-impaired individuals have 3.7 times less incidence of scoliosis. (Decreased incidence of scoliosis in hearing-impaired children: implications for a neurological basis for idiopathic scoliosis, Spine 1995)
Average Age of Scoliosis Progression
The average age of curve acceleration is 11.7 years of age. (Maturity assessment & curve progression in girls with IS, JBJS 2007)
Utilization of Chiropractic Services for Scoliosis
“An estimated 2.7 million patient visits are made to American chiropractors each year for scoliosis and scoliosis-related complaints.“ (Job analysis of chiropractic. 2000, National Board of Chiropractic Examiners)
Feise conducted a telephone survey to, “determine the clinical management approach of practicing chiropractors with regard to patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
114 chiropractors responded. “In general, the respondents would provide 6 months of “intensive” chiropractic therapy, then follow the patient for 4 years (near skeletal maturity). Eighty-two percent of respondents named diversified technique as their primary adjustive treatment, 87% would use exercise, and 30% would use electric muscle stimulation as an adjunct to manual therapy.” (JMPT 2001)
“Full-spine chiropractic adjustments with heel lifts and lifestyle counseling are not effective in reducing the severity of scoliotic curves.” (Effect of Chiropractic intervention on small scoliotic curves in younger subjects: A time-series cohort design. JMPT 2001)
Scoliosis and Communication with Health Professionals
Only 5% of those with scoliosis declared that they had opportunities to discuss their feelings with health professionals, while 90% of them declared that they wanted to have more opportunities to do this. (J Adv Nurs 2001)
Emotional Effects of Scoliosis
Scoliosis patients have been shown to be 40% more likely to have suicidal thoughts (Payne et al, Spine 1997)
A study by Shang et al found that patients with severe AIS were more likely to have psychological problems that affected their quality of life than patients with medium or mild AIS. (Analysis of psychological characteristics in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Chinese Journal of Spine and Spinal Cord. 2009)
Payne et al surveyed 685 patients with AIS (269 males and 416 females, aged 12–18 years). Scoliosis patients had more frequent suicidal thoughts, more concern about abnormal body development, and a greater worry and concern about peer relations. (Payne et al, Spine 1997)
“For both sexes, the predominant clinical symptom of AIS appears to be the negative effect that the spinal deformity exerts on perceived self-image and appearance.” (Perceived self-image in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: an integrative review of the literature. Rev. esc. Enferm. 2014)
Scoliosis and Pain
In one study, 63% of children with scoliosis reported pain – a number almost twice as high as the number reported by those who did not have scoliosis (“The pain drawing in AIS.” Proceedings of the Scoliosis Research Society, 36th Annual Meeting. 2001.).
Twice as many people with scoliosis report continuous pain as non-scoliosis patients, and 73% of people with scoliosis report experiencing back pain in the past year compared to only 28% of people without scoliosis. (“The Ste-Justine AIS Scoliosis Cohort Study,” Mayo et al 1994, Spine 19:1573)
23% of people with scoliosis reported their pain level as horrible, excruciating, or distressing, compared to just 1.4% of people without scoliosis.
The incidence of low back pain is almost twice as high in people living with scoliosis as those without. (“The Ste-Justine AIS Scoliosis Cohort Study,” Mayo et al 1994, Spine 19:1573)