Scheuermann's Disease

What is Scheuermann's disease? 

Scheuermann’s disease, also called “Scheuermann’s kyphosis,” is a skeletal disorder involving abnormal growth of the spine. Greater growth along the upper back section of the spine causes vertebra to wedge together and form a ‘hunched’ back, or kyphosis. The normal spine already curves in the chest region and the lower back region. However, with Scheuermann’s disease, growth is irregular, which increases the kyphosis curvature, usually in the rib region.

Diagnosis 

Scheuermann’s disease is associated with progressive deformity, stiffness and back pain. While the pain often lessens over time, the deformity does not improve. The deformity is often apparent and can lead to increased kyphosis (hunched back) of the thoracic spine. To make sure the head stays upright (rather than falling forward), the spine also develops a lordosis (arching) of both the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back).

Treatment

Treatment is personalized for each child, whether your child has physical therapy to focus on core strengthening, receives spinal bracing, or has surgery. Treatment goals often focus on decreasing the child’s or young adult’s pain because of this condition.

Bracing

Bracing has had mixed success with Scheuermann’s kyphosis. In most cases, bracing does not improve deformity. To best limit the condition’s progress, the bracing plan must start early in the disease process. It also takes dedication to comply with the bracing plan until your child finishes growing. Since most patients do not seek medical help until the deformity is clearly present, bracing usually does not make an effective choice for treatment.

Surgery

Surgical correction works to address the deformity that comes from having Scheuermann’s and also keeps the curve from progressing. Implants (screws) are inserted and connected with a rigid rod to obtain and maintain alignment. Bone grafts are also used to make a solid fusion where the rod is placed.