What is Scheuermanns Disease? Does your teen have it?

This condition involves development of an excessive thoracic kyphosis, and is often seen in the teenage population.

Slouching and poor posture often contribute to an increased kyphosis, but this can be corrected with conscious effort, and often resolves after teenage years.

The thoracic kyphosis that develops in Scheurmanns disease involves a structural change, due to an underlying abnormal shape of the vertebrae due to the vertebral end-plate growth. This change in growth may be due to a pre-existing weakness in the cartilage and bone, or due to excessive loading forces on the bone.

How common is Scheuermann’s disease?

The frequency of x-ray changes has been found to be as high as 50% of boys, and 30% of girls, although true Scheuermanns kyphosis is estimated to be present in about 1% of the population.

Signs and symptoms of Scheuermanns Disease:

Increased thoracic kyphosis (curve in the upper back, ‘hunch back’) Thoracic curve tends to be sharp rather than smooth, and very stiff Pain in the thoracic region, often worse after physical activity ​

What can be done?

– Monitor every 6 months for changes in the curve up to the age of 18 – Encourage exercise such as swimming to assist decrease pain – Physiotherapy to decrease stiffness of the spine and provide advice for further intervention such as strengthening and stretching exercises – Bracing if the curve is severe, Surgery if the curve is greater than 70 degrees