Global Scoliosis Population

Whether you've recently been diagnosed with scoliosis or merely suspect that you may be suffering from a curvature of the spine, it's likely that you'll have many questions about the condition, especially if you've heard little about it until now. For example, many people ask how common scoliosis is, and this is a question to which there is no single or clear answer.

Despite this, we can provide some information about the prevalence of scoliosis in people of all ages, along with data about how often those spinal curves go on to cause further medical problems.

So, how common is scoliosis? 

Approximately 4 out of every 100 people have scoliosis. However, not every case of scoliosis causes pain, nor does it necessarily impact the patient's mobility or appearance. In fact, many cases are asymptomatic (i.e. there are no immediately obvious symptoms), with the condition being diagnosed only once a mild skeletal imbalance is noticed.

For some sufferers, however, the curvature gets progressively worse as time passes, with secondary medical issues and complications arising as a result.

Who does scoliosis affect?

Scoliosis is more likely to affect women than men, and so there are more female than male scoliosis sufferers. There is no clear reason for this bias, although multiple theories have been proposed.

With regards to age, scoliosis can develop at any time of life, from birth to old age; more often than not, however, it develops during adolescence, roughly coinciding with the growth spurts that occur between the ages of 10 and 15.

Which types of scoliosis are most common?

The question 'how common is scoliosis?' becomes more complicated when you consider the many different types of scoliosis that exist. Idiopathic scoliosis is by far the condition's most common form, but you may be more at risk of developing another type of scoliosis if you have other medical problems, such as a neuromuscular condition or an illness that weakens your muscles and/or bones.

The most common location in which scoliosis occurs is the upper/middle section of the back (thoracic scoliosis), although many patients suffer with lumbar (lower back) scoliosis instead.

How common is severe scoliosis?

Around 0.2% of people have a scoliotic spinal curve measuring in excess of 30 degrees; only 0.1% percent have a Cobb angle exceeding 40 degrees. Treatment is usually recommended before the curve gets as far as 40 degrees - this treatment may consist of physical therapy, preventative measures (such as bracing), and/or corrective surgery (usually reserved for the most severe cases).

It is important to note that scoliosis is not considered to be a fatal condition. The curve caused by scoliosis cannot directly result in an individual's death; that being said, there are some secondary risks which can occur as a result of the condition, resulting in complications for a very small number of patients.

Do you have more questions about scoliosis? Click here to learn about our non-surgical treatment methods, or get in touch to arrange a consultation with Scoliosis SOS.