Scheuermann’s disease, or Scheuermann’s kyphosis, is a condition in which a child has too much curvature (or kyphosis) in the middle of the back.
Kyphosis typically occurs during periods of accelerated growth. If the front of the spine doesn’t grow as quickly as the back of the spine, the vertebrae become wedge-shaped. This change in shape causes the middle of the spine to curve forward abnormally, leading to a rounded or stooped posture.
Although the cause of Scheuermann’s disease is unknown, the condition seems to run in families. Roughly 4 to 8 percent of people have it, and it occurs in males twice as often as in females. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of patients who have Scheuermann’s disease also develop scoliosis.
Symptoms of Scheuermann’s disease typically develop between ages 10 and 15, while bones are still growing.
The most common symptoms of the condition are:
In severe cases, Scheuermann’s disease can affect breathing or injure the spinal cord. The condition also might also increase the likelihood of developing arthritis of the back later in life.
If you think your child has Scheuermann’s disease, specialists start by reviewing medical history and test results, and performing a physical exam.
A diagnosis is given if:
Tests used to diagnose Scheuermann’s disease might include:
Your child might receive treatment for Scheuermann’s disease to relieve pain, correct abnormal curvature of the spine, or prevent a curvature from worsening.
Kyphosis treatment varies depending on:
Even if your child has Scheuermann’s disease, they may not necessarily need treatment. Monitoring might be sufficient. However, if pain or decreased function becomes a problem, other treatments might help.
If pain becomes a problem for your child, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) might help.
In some cases, your child might benefit from a kyphosis back brace to prevent the curvature from worsening. Bracing typically holds the spine straight during growth and prevents the kyphosis from progressing in children younger than 14. If your child wears the kyphosis brace consistently, the curvature is usually corrected after two years.
If nonsurgical treatments don’t help reduce your child’s pain, surgery might be necessary. At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare we might recommend surgery to improve spine alignment. We might also recommend surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal cord that limits function or damages nerves.
If your child has Scheuermann’s disease, the internationally recognized specialists at Gillette will create a customized plan that fits your child’s unique needs.
Your child might receive care and treatment from experts in the following areas:
Your family can count on our team of orthopedic specialists to treat complex conditions related to Scheuermann’s, including osteochondritis dissecans. We welcome the involvement of primary care providers, teachers, and school and community therapists.