What is Scheuermann’s kyphosis?
Scheuermann’s kyphosis, also commonly referred to as Scheuermann’s disease, is a condition that typically begins during the growth spurt that occurs before puberty. Kyphosis refers to when there is too much curvature in the thoracic spine (the mid-back). Scheuermann’s kyphosis is characterized by wedge-shaped vertebrae (bones of the spine) that cause the thoracic spine to curve forward too much. This condition appears in adolescents, affecting more boys than girls.
It is self-limiting, which means that once it has run its course it generally doesn’t present further complications. However, once the patient is fully grown the bones usually maintain the deformity. Therefore, it is important to treat and correct the kyphosis when the spine is still growing.
What are the symptoms of Scheuermann’s kyphosis?
The symptoms of Scheuermann’s kyphosis include the following:
- Excessive curvature of the spine
- Premature roundedness in the shoulders
- Poor posture or slouching
- Sporadic instances of fatigue and mild pain in the mid-back
- Pain and stiffness
- A rigid curve of the spine that gets worse when bending forward
- Rarely, chest pain or difficulty breathing caused by decreased lung capacity
What causes Scheuermann’s kyphosis?
The exact cause of the disease is unknown. Researchers believe it is related to interrupted bone growth or abnormalities in vertebrae development. Symptoms develop because several bones of the spine wedge together in a row. When the front of the spine doesn’t grow as fast as the back of the spine, vertebrae that are supposed to be rectangular in shape wedge together and become triangular in shape. This causes the spine to curve more than normal, and patients become stooped forward with a bent-over posture.
How is Scheuermann’s kyphosis diagnosed?
Scheuermann’s kyphosis is diagnosed using the following procedures:
- Thorough recording of medical history
- Adam’s Forward Bending Test
- Physical examination
- Range of motion test
- Spinal x-rays
What are the treatments for Scheuermann’s kyphosis?
Scheuermann’s kyphosis treatment includes, but is not limited to:
- A brace
- Physical therapy
- Surgery can be needed for large, painful curves
Where can I find out more about Scheuermann’s kyphosis?