Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis




Review Sections

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Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is an exclusion diagnosis determined only after other known causes of scoliosis have been ruled out. It is defined as a lateral spinal curvature of greater than 10 degrees as measured by the Cobb method. Other characteristics are vertebral body rotation and onset after the age of 10.

The prevalence of AIS has been estimated at 2% (1). The prevalence of AIS requiring treatment is 2 to 3 in 1000 (2).

A total of 148 references were used in preparation of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment sections of the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis monographs.

(1) Greiner KA. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: radiologic decision-making. Am Fam Physician 2002; 65(9):1817-1822; (2) Bunnell WP. Selective screening for scoliosis. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2005;(434):40-45.

Clinical Reviews

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Prevention

The descriptor "idiopathic" provides ample evidence that risk factors or prevention strategies for developing adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) are limited. There are many causes for scoliosis but fully 80% are classified as idiopathic. Investigation in this area is developing and several possible causative factors are currently being discussed in the literature. Among these, to name a few, are genetic influences, hormonal changes, age of mother at birth, platelets, connective tissue disorders, musculature disorders and dysfunction of the posture controlling system.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Diagnosis

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is an exclusion diagnosis. Approximately 20% of scoliosis patients have an identifiable cause such as hemi-vertebrae, but 80% remain without known cause. Only after all causes can be ruled out can the diagnosis of AIS be appropriately made.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Therapy

A great disparity exists between allopathic medicine and chiropractic relating to the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Medical interventions often follow a "wait and see" philosophy where the goal of treatment is to prevent progression of the curve beyond a certain limit. When curves do progress beyond a certain point and significant time in the growth of the individual remains, the allopath can choose between two or three treatments, none which have been tested in randomized controlled trials. Chiropractic care is generally aggressively performed with the intention of reversing most curves, even minor curves. Similar to the allopath, very weak evidence demonstrates the efficacy of chiropractic care or the need to treat curves which have little statistical chance of progression to a significant level. Case studies represent the bulk of chiropractic research and are of limited value since up to 27.4% of curves show spontaneous improvement of at least 5° without treatment.

Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) Information

MeSH Term: Scoliosis

Scope Note: An appreciable lateral deviation in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. (Dorland, 27th ed)

MeSH Synonyms:
  • Scoliosis
  • Scolioses
Applicable MeSH Subheadings:
  • analysis
  • anatomy and histology
  • blood
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • chemically induced
  • chemistry
  • classification
  • complications
  • congenital
  • diagnosis
  • diagnostic imaging
  • drug therapy
  • economics
  • embryology
  • enzymology
  • epidemiology
  • ethnology
  • etiology
  • genetics
  • history
  • immunology
  • metabolism
  • microbiology
  • mortality
  • nursing
  • organization and administration
  • parasitology
  • pathology
  • physiology
  • physiopathology
  • prevention and control
  • psychology
  • radiotherapy
  • rehabilitation
  • statistics and numerical data
  • surgery
  • therapy
  • urine
  • veterinary
  • virology
MeSH Term: Adolescent

Scope Note: A person 13 to 18 years of age.

MeSH Synonyms:
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescents
  • Adolescence
  • Teens
  • Teen
  • Teenagers
  • Teenager
  • Youth
  • Youths
  • Adolescents, Female
  • Adolescent, Female
  • Female Adolescent
  • Female Adolescents
  • Adolescents, Male
  • Adolescent, Male
  • Male Adolescent
  • Male Adolescents
Applicable MeSH Subheadings:
  • complications
  • diagnosis
  • drug therapy
  • education
  • etiology
  • growth and development
  • injuries
  • legislation and jurisprudence
  • metabolism
  • organization and administration
  • physiology
  • psychology
  • surgery
  • therapy
See Related MeSH Terms:

Informative Links

Arrow Scoliosis Information

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MedlinePlus: Scoliosis

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Current Clinical Trials Relating to  Scoliosis AND Adolescent Provides patients, family members, and members of the public easy and free access to information on clinical studies for a wide range of diseases and conditions.


Paper vs. Internet

(Status: Completed)


Scoliosis-Specific Exercises for At-Risk AIS Curves

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Feasibility Study of MID-C for AIS

(Status: Completed)


Min Implants Max Outcomes Clinical Trial

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