Scoliosis is a condition of the spine that can be diagnosed as one of three types (Idiopathic, Congenital, or Neuromuscular) and can affect people of all ages. In honor of Scoliosis Awareness Month, here’s what you need to know about gender and scoliosis from Chief of Spine Service Dr. Frank Schwab.
Q1. Is scoliosis more prevalent in males or females?
Scoliosis is found to be more common in females seemingly in all age groups, including adults.
Q2. Have there been findings to suggest treatment outcomes are different in men vs. women?
For young males that have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), the method of bracing seems to be less effective than young females. In adult patients with scoliosis, the outcomes seem similar in both men and women.
Q3. Are there different medical approaches to treating men vs. women?
The principle difference in adults relates to bone density. In females, bone density issues can lead to greater precaution in placement of implants, need for post-op bracing and metabolic bone management with medications.
Q4. What are the best treatment options?
Ideally, for scoliosis patients, surgery is avoided and only considered after failure of bracing in children or exhaustion of targeted pain management and exercise in adults. If surgery is considered, then the best options are those which align with the goals and shared decision making between the patient and their surgeon.
Q5. Is scoliosis increasing or decreasing in terms of males/females being diagnosed with it?
It seems there is greater awareness and training, which is driving earlier diagnosis of scoliosis. With greater life expectancy, it is certain that scoliosis in adults will be diagnosed more frequently in the future. Importantly, quality of life concerns in the aging population will drive a substantial increase in care for spine deformities.
Dr. Frank Schwab is Chief of Spine Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Schwab’s clinical practice focuses on complex spinal pathology, adult and pediatric spinal deformity and revision reconstruction procedures. He is widely recognized as a leader in the field and has pioneered many aspects of spinal deformity care, especially for patients with extensive surgical histories.