The effects of physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercise on idiopathic scoliosis in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Physiotherapy. 2023 Jul 24:121:46-57. doi: 10.1016/ Online ahead of print.


Background: Physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercise (PSSE) is recommended by SOSORT as the first step in the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). However, a thorough summary and meta-analysis of the evidence for the effectiveness of PSSE is lacking.

Objective: To summarise the up-to-date evidence on the efficacy of PSSE in AIS compared with the other non-surgical therapies.

Data sources: The PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane, Scopus, Embase and CNKI databases were systematically searched from 1 January 2012 to 1 November 2022.

Study selection: Controlled trials comparing the effects of PSSE and other non-surgical therapies on improving Cobb angle and quality of life in young people aged 6-18 years were included.

Data synthesis: Three researchers independently extracted data and evaluated methodological quality. Meta-analysis was performed where possible; otherwise, descriptive syntheses were reported.

Results: Seventeen studies with a total of 930 participants (76% female) were included. Among them, ten studies were RCTs. Six studies were of excellent quality. Thirteen studies were included in the meta-analysis. PSSE corrected the Cobb angle in patients better than other non-surgical therapies (I2 = 82%, MD = -2.82, 95%CI = -4.17 to -1.48, P < 0.01). PSSE was more effective than brace in improving patients' pain, self-image and mental health. Patients with a Risser grade of 0-3 or who had never received brace therapy had better outcomes.

Conclusion: Evidence from higher quality studies suggests that PSSE was superior to general exercise and conventional therapy for correcting the Cobb angle in AIS.

Systematic review registration number: PROSPERO ID CRD42022345157 CONTRIBUTION OF THE PAPER.

Keywords: Adolescents; Meta-analysis; Physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercise; Scoliosis.

Publication types

  • Review