A systematic literature review of spinal brace/orthosis treatment for adults with scoliosis between 1967 and 2018: clinical outcomes and harms data.

Jeb McAviney, Johanna Mee, Azharuddin Fazalbhoy, Juan Du Plessis, Benjamin T. Brown

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    23 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: There is a paucity of literature regarding the conservative management of adult scoliosis. The authors review and summarize the literature from 1967 to 2018 on the clinical outcomes of spinal brace/orthosis use in this subgroup of the population.

    Methods: CINAHL, Embase, CENTRAL, PubMed and PEDro were searched from database inception to the 30th of October, 2018. A combination of medical subject heading terms and keywords pertaining to three core concepts (adult, scoliosis, and braces/orthoses) were used in the search. Studies were included if A) clinical outcomes were collected from B) participants ≥18 years C) receiving spinal brace/orthosis treatment for D) primary degenerative (de novo) scoliosis or progressive idiopathic scoliosis. A step-wise screening process was employed which involved a title and abstract screen for relevancy followed by a full text eligibility appraisal by two authors. Data were extracted, and a risk of bias assessment was performed on the included cohort studies using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Given the overall level and quality of the available evidence, conclusions were drawn based on a qualitative summary of the evidence.

    Results: Ten studies (four case reports and six cohort studies) were included which detailed the clinical outcomes of soft (2 studies) or rigid bracing (8 studies), used as a standalone therapy or in combination with physiotherapy/rehabilitation, in 339 adults with various types of scoliosis. Most studies included female participants only. Commonly reported outcomes were pain (7 studies), function (3 studies) and Cobb angles (3 studies), with follow-up times ranging from 2 days to 17 years. Brace wear prescriptions ranged from 2 to 23 h per day, and there was mixed brace-compliance reported. Most studies reported modest or significant reduction in pain and improvement in function at follow-up. There were mixed findings with regards to Cobb angle changes in response to bracing. Participants from one study noted discomfort associated with bracing. Each of the six cohort studies demonstrated a high risk of bias.

    Conclusion: There is evidence to suggest that spinal brace/orthosis treatment may have a positive short – medium term influence on pain and function in adults with either progressive primary (de novo) degenerative scoliosis or progressive idiopathic scoliosis. At this point in time the evidence is of low quality and has been focused primarily on female patients with thoracolumbar and lumbar curves. More granular statements regarding the efficacy of different brace types or manufacturers, or the effect of this therapy on different curve types cannot be determined based on the current literature. Properly constructed prospective trials are required to better understand the efficacy of bracing in adult scoliosis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number87
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Braces
    • adult
    • scoliosis
    • therapeutics
    • pain
    • Pain
    • Scoliosis
    • Therapeutics
    • Adult


    Dive into the research topics of 'A systematic literature review of spinal brace/orthosis treatment for adults with scoliosis between 1967 and 2018: clinical outcomes and harms data.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this