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Prevalence of Back Problems in 1069 Adults With Idiopathic Scoliosis and 158 Adults Without Scoliosis

Grauers, Anna, MD*,†; Topalis, Christos, MD; Möller, Hans, MD, PhD†,‡; Normelli, Helena, MD, PhD; Karlsson, Magnus K., MD, PhD§; Danielsson, Aina, MD, PhD; Gerdhem, Paul, MD, PhD†,‡

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000312

Study Design. Multicenter case-control study.

Objective. To investigate the prevalence of back problems in adults with idiopathic scoliosis.

Summary of Background Data. Information on the prevalence of back problems in adults with idiopathic scoliosis is scarce, especially in untreated individuals, males, and individuals with an age at the onset of scoliosis of less than 10 years.

Methods. A total of 1069 individuals with idiopathic scoliosis and 158 individuals without scoliosis, all aged 20 to 65 years, answered a questionnaire on back problems. Individuals with scoliosis were diagnosed between ages 4 and 20 years and any treatment was terminated before the age of 20 years. Logistic regression or analysis of variance was used for group comparisons.

Results. Mean (SD) age at the time of investigation in individuals with scoliosis (123 males and 946 females) was 41 (9) years, and in individuals without scoliosis (75 males and 83 females) 45 (13) years. Three hundred seventy-four individuals with scoliosis were untreated, 451 had been brace treated, and 244 were surgically treated. The mean prevalence of back problems was 64% in the individuals with scoliosis and 29% in the individuals without scoliosis (P < 0.001). Among the untreated individuals with scoliosis, 69% reported back problems; among the brace treated, 61%; and among the surgically treated, 64% (P = 0.06). When comparing females and males with scoliosis, and individuals with juvenile and adolescent scoliosis, there were no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of back problems (P = 0.10 and P = 0.23, respectively).

Conclusion. Adults with idiopathic scoliosis have a higher prevalence of back problems than individuals without scoliosis. Treatment, sex, and juvenile or adolescent onset of diagnosis was not related to the prevalence of back problems in adulthood.

Level of Evidence: 2

A case-control study with the objective to investigate the prevalence of back problems in 1069 adults with idiopathic scoliosis and 158 individuals without. Adults with idiopathic scoliosis have a higher prevalence of back problems than individuals without scoliosis.

*Department of Orthopaedics, Sundsvall and Harnosand County Hospital, Sundsvall, Sweden

Department of Clinical Sciences, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Department of Orthopaedics, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

§Department of Orthopaedics and Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Skane University Hospital, Malmo, Sweden; and

Department of Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Anna Grauers, MD, Department of Orthopaedics, Sundsvall Harnosand County Hospital, 85186 Sundsvall, Sweden; E-mail:

Acknowledgment date: November 11, 2013. Revision date: January 27, 2014. Acceptance date: February 10, 2014.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

The regional agreement on medical training and clinical research (ALF) between Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet, Region Skane County Council, Karolinska Institutet, Vasternorrland County Council, the Swedish Society of Spine Surgeons, the Alfred Osterlund Foundation and the Emil Andersson Foundation funds were received to support this work.

No relevant financial activities outside the submitted work.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins