Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common form of structural spinal deformities that have a radiological lateral Cobb angle — a measure of spinal curvature — of ≥10°. AIS affects between 1% and 4% of adolescents in the early stages of puberty and is more common in young women than in young men. The condition occurs in otherwise healthy individuals and currently has no recognizable cause. In the past few decades, considerable progress has been made towards understanding the clinical patterns and the three-dimensional pathoanatomy of AIS. Advances in biomechanics and technology and their clinical application, supported by limited evidence-based research, have led to improvements in the safety and outcomes of surgical and non-surgical treatments. However, the definite aetiology and aetiopathogenetic mechanisms that underlie AIS are still unclear. Thus, at present, both the prevention of AIS and the treatment of its direct underlying cause are not possible.