Prevalence and predictors of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in adolescent ballet dancers

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Sep;95(9):1725-30. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.02.027. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


Objective: To determine any differences between the prevalence of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in ballet dancers who are girls compared with age-matched nondancers, and to establish if any relations exist between the presence of scoliosis and generalized joint hypermobility, age of menarche, body mass index (BMI), and the number of hours of dance training per week.

Design: Cross-sectional, matched pair study.

Setting: Dance school.

Participants: Dancers (n=30) between the ages of 9 and 16 years were recruited from a certified dance school in Western Australia; each dancer provided a consenting age-matched nondancer (n=30).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Measurements were taken for angle of trunk rotation using a scoliometer (presence of scoliosis) and for height and weight to produce generalized joint hypermobility using Beighton criteria and an age-adjusted BMI, respectively. A subjective questionnaire regarding age of menarche and participation in dance and other sports was completed.

Results: Thirty percent of dancers tested positive for scoliosis compared with 3% of nondancers. Odds ratio calculations suggest that dancers were 12.4 times more likely to have scoliosis than nondancers of the same age. There was a higher rate of hypermobility in the dancer group (70%) compared with the nondancers (3%); however, there were no statistically significant relations between scoliosis and hypermobility, age of menarche, BMI, or hours of dance per week.

Conclusions: Adolescent dancers, similar to adult dancers, are at significantly higher risk of developing scoliosis than nondancers of the same age. Vigilant screening and improved education of dance teachers and parents of dance students may be beneficial in earlier detection and, consequently, reducing the risk of requiring surgical intervention.

Keywords: Cross-sectional studies; Dancing; Prevalence; Rehabilitation; Scoliosis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Dancing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis
  • Joint Instability / epidemiology*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Menarche
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Reference Values
  • Rotation
  • Scoliosis / diagnosis
  • Scoliosis / epidemiology*
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires