Background: Scoliosis is a three-dimensional deviation of the spinal axis. The main diagnostic criterion is spinal curvature exceeding 10° on a plain anteroposterior X-ray image. Scoliosis is called idiopathic when no other underlying disease can be identified.
Methods: Selective literature review and recommendations of the relevant medical societies in Germany and abroad.
Results: Scoliosis in children of school age and above primarily occurs in girls. Its prevalence is 1% to 2% among adolescents, but more than 50% among persons over age 60. The therapeutic goal in children is to prevent progression. In children, scoliosis of 20° or more should be treated with a brace, and scoliosis of 45° or more with surgery. The treatment of adults with scoliosis is determined on an individual basis, with physiotherapy and braces playing a relatively minor role. Adults (even elderly adults) who have scoliosis and sagittal imbalance may be best served by surgical treatment.
Conclusion: Scoliosis is common. Early diagnosis makes a major difference in the choice of treatment.