Scheuermann’s Kyphosis

Scheuermann’s kyphosis is a deformity of the spine that develops during growth. It can be considered as increased kyphosis. Kyphosis is the C-shaped curving of the spine and is also known as hunchback. This deformity occurs in the junction between thoracic region and lumbar sections of the spine or in the chest region. However, it does not typically affect the spinal cord or nerve roots. It is commonly observed in males in their adolescence.

Causes

The exact cause of Scheuermann’s kyphosis is not known, but it is caused due to the abnormal growth of the spine. The front of the spine stops growing, while the back of the spine continues to grow, forming a wedge-shaped vertebra. This condition may be considered to be congenital, or may be developed because of osteopenia at younger age, due to heavy lifting, and posture problems.

Symptoms

Most commonly occurring symptoms include pain and the characteristic C-back. In some cases no significant symptoms will be evident. Symptomatic pain can be relieved with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen but will not help to bring back the correct posture of the spine. This condition can lead to herniated thoracic disc, a condition in which the contents of the disc material leaks out.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will conduct a detailed physical examination which includes range of motion tests, palpitation, and Adam’s forward bending tests. After the physical examination is complete, further imaging tests include X-ray, myelography (to check if the spinal cord is affected), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Additionally, X-ray of the pelvis and wrist are taken to identify the bone age to know skeletal maturity.

Treatment

Treatment for Scheuermann’s kyphosis based on the patient’s age, severity of the curve, and any associated neurological problems.

Nonsurgical treatment : Your doctor may suggest physical therapy that includes strengthening exercises and postural training which helps to strengthen the spinal muscles and also to improve the posture. Braces can be recommended if the results from physical therapy are not satisfactory. This brace is made up of plastic which attaches itself to the waist. Pressure exerted by the upright bars present in the brace helps to straighten the spine.

Surgical treatment : Surgery is an option for patients if symptoms are not relieved with non-surgical treatment and the spinal deformity is progressive. Surgery is performed to straighten the spine and to reduce the amount of kyphosis. Surgery consists of a posterior approach with an incision in the middle of the back, and using screws and rods to correct the spine and bone graft to allow it to fuse in a straighter position.