Does childhood idiopathic scoliosis cause low-back pain in adulthood?

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Charles T Mehlman, DO, MPH; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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A large cohort (nearly 2000 subjects) of patients with idiopathic scoliosis in Montreal, Canada, referred to as the St Justine Cohort Study, was monitored for 10-20 years. These patients were compared to a population-based control group drawn from the general Quebec population. Compared to the general population and regardless of whether their scoliosis was treated surgically or nonsurgically, patients with scoliosis were found to have a higher self-reported rate of arthritis and poorer perceptions of their overall health, body image, and ability to participate in vigorous activities. [52, 53]

A subset of the cohort (700-1500 patients) was analyzed further regarding low back pain. [54, 55] These Canadian researchers found a higher overall rate of significant back pain reported within the last year (75% of patients with scoliosis versus 56% of control subjects). [54] Patients with scoliosis who were treated surgically also reported a high rate (73%) of back pain within the last year, but it did not correlate with the distal extent of the spinal fusion. The St Justine authors went on to state that their study "does not provide any evidence that extending the level of fusion down even as far as L4 will increase the prevalence of back pain in adulthood." [55]

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