How common is scoliosis?

About 1 out of 100 people in the general population has some type of scoliosis.1 Fortunately, most cases of scoliosis are mild.

Scoliosis usually starts in childhood. Scoliosis that is bad enough to need treatment is most common in girls.2

Mild or small curves are more common than moderate or severe curves. About 10 out of 100 children who are diagnosed with scoliosis require treatment (either bracing or surgery).3

Of those who have scoliosis, 30 out of 100 have family members with the condition.4 Children—especially daughters—of women who have scoliosis are at increased risk for having scoliosis.1


  1. Hu SS, et al. (2006). Scoliosis section of Disorders, diseases and injuries of the spine. In HB Skinner, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 4th ed., chap. 5, pp. 255–269. New York: Lange Medical/McGraw-Hill.
  2. Griffin LY, et al. (2005). Scoliosis. In Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 3rd ed., pp. 928–931. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  3. Staheli LT (2006). Scoliosis section of Spine and pelvis. In Practice of Pediatric Orthopedics, pp. 210–219. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  4. Polousky JD, Eilert RE (2009). Scoliosis section of Orthopedics. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 19th ed., chap. 24, pp. 754–755. New York: Lange Medical/McGraw-Hill.

Last Updated: August 27, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas S. Renshaw, MD - Orthopedics

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