Scheuermann’s Kyphosis

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Scheuermann’s Kyphosis happens in the course of the growth process. This condition develops during puberty. The vertebrae become misshapen and pushed forward causing the spine to curve.

Although there is no known cause of Scheuermann’s Kyphosis, theories of causes include:

  • injury to the growth area
  • delayed bone growth
  • cartilage death due to lack of blood supply
  • the way the spine is formed

Scheuermann’s Kyphosis

Hereditary Symptoms of Scheuermann’s Kyphosis show up between the ages of 10-15 and include:poor posture(slouching) * ache in the mid back

Rounded back Diagnostics for Scheuermann’s Kyphosis: physical exam * medical history
* xrays- to see if there is a 3° to 5°curve present in touching vertibrae

Common treatment for Scheuermann’s Kyphosis:

  • braces
  • physical therapy
  • surgery- for over 75° curve in spine

Scheuermann’s Kyphosis

Like postural kyphosis, Scheuermann’s kyphosis often becomes apparent during the teen years. However, Scheuermann’s kyphosis can result in a significantly more severe deformity than postural kyphosis—particularly in thin patients.

Scheuermann’s kyphosis is caused by a structural abnormality in the spine. In a patient with Scheuermann’s kyphosis, an x-ray from the side will show that, rather than the normal rectangular shape, several consecutive vertebrae have a more triangular shape. This irregular shape causes the vertebrae to wedge together toward the front of the spine, decreasing the normal disk space and creating an exaggerated forward curvature in the upper back.

Illustration and x-ray show the vertebral wedging that occurs in patients with Scheuermann’s kyphosis.
(Right) Reproduced from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010

The curve caused by Scheuermann’s kyphosis is usually sharp and angular. It is also stiff and rigid; unlike a patient with postural kyphosis, a patient with Scheuermann’s kyphosis is not able to correct the curve by standing up straight.

Scheuermann’s kyphosis usually affects the thoracic spine, but occasionally develops in the lumbar (lower) spine. The condition is more common in boys than girls and stops progressing once growing is complete.

Scheuermann’s kyphosis can sometimes be painful. . This results when the spine tries to compensate for the rounded upper back by increasing the natural inward curve of the lower back. Activity can make the pain worse, as can long periods of standing or sitting.

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