What is Scheuermann’s Disease?
Scheuermann’s disease affects the spine during development, resulting in abnormal growth of the thoracic (upper back) vertebrae and sometimes the lumbar vertebrae. It causes one side of the vertebral body to grow more than the other, resulting in a wedge shape and increased dorsal kyphosis or curvature of the upper back. Endplate irregularities, which refer to changes in the bone-disc interface, are another feature of Scheuermann’s disease. These changes can cause intervertebral spinal discs to protrude into the vertebra, resulting in bone depressions called Schmorl’s nodes, which usually do not cause any problems.
Calvé disease and juvenile osteochondrosis of the spine are alternative names for Scheuermann’s disease. Although it’s more common in adolescents, adults can also develop it.
What Causes Scheuermann’s Disease?
Medical attention and treatment are necessary for Scheuermann’s disease, a structural spine abnormality. Although its exact cause has yet to be fully understood, poor posture does not cause it—abnormal thoracic vertebrae growth during adolescence results in Scheuermann’s disease. Various factors influence Scheuermann’s disease, including genetic and hormonal imbalances, malabsorption, endocrine disorders, infection, and biomechanical factors such as a shortened sternum.
What are the Symptoms of Scheuermann’s Disease?
Symptoms of Scheuermann’s disease include pain and stiffness in the upper back, an increased curvature, and a limited range of motion. Physical activity may exacerbate symptoms, but some people may not experience any symptoms.
An increased curvature of the upper back, known as an increased thoracic or mid/upper back kyphosis, is one of the hallmark symptoms of Scheuermann’s disease. This curvature can visibly cause a rounding of the shoulders and a hunched posture.
How is Scheuermann’s Disease Diagnosed?
Healthcare providers diagnose Scheuermann’s disease through physical examination and imaging tests, including X-rays and MRI. Diagnosis is via X-rays. Additional tests, such as bone density or blood tests, may be ordered to rule out other conditions. It’s essential to have a qualified healthcare professional make the diagnosis, as other conditions can cause similar symptoms and imaging findings.
Scheuermann’s Disease Treatment
Scheuermann’s disease treatment typically involves several phases, each aimed at addressing different aspects of the condition and promoting healing and recovery.
PHASE I – Pain Relief and Protection:
The primary goal of the initial phase of treatment is to manage pain and inflammation. Treatment may involve ice or heat therapy, acupuncture, unloading taping, and soft tissue massage to reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain relievers to manage pain. During this phase, avoiding heavy loading of the thoracic spine and vigorous bending exercises is essential.
PHASE II – Restoring Normal Range of Motion and Strength:
As pain and inflammation begin to subside, the focus of treatment shifts to restoring normal range of motion and strength. Treatment may involve specific exercises to improve extension and muscle recruitment patterns and strengthen the muscles that control movement and posture in the back. Your physiotherapist will assess your needs and prescribe exercises tailored to your condition and goals.
PHASE III – Restoring Full Function:
After restoring normal motion and strength, the focus is on restoring full function and returning to activities.
PHASE IV – Preventing Future Dysfunction:
To prevent future problems, maintain excellent flexibility in the back and keep core muscles healthy to maintain good posture and reasonable control over the vertebrae. Your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises or guide you on maintaining good back health to prevent future dysfunction.
Scheuermann’s Disease Prognosis
Scheuermann’s disease has a good prognosis for most people, with the pain eventually passing and no further trouble from the thoracic vertebrae. However, some individuals may have a reduced range of motion or ongoing postural issues if there is significant kyphosis. You may use a posture brace to encourage proper spinal alignment and muscle activation. Surgery to correct the spine’s position is rare and only considered in cases where the disease process is substantial. Working with a physiotherapist is essential to monitor symptoms and progress through appropriate treatment options.
Common Causes of Upper Back Pain & Injury
Thoracic Spine Conditions
Upper back pain and injury are common issues that can significantly affect one's quality of life. Various factors can contribute to this discomfort, from thoracic spine conditions and joint injuries to muscle-related issues and nerve-related pain. Additionally, bone-related injuries, disc-related problems, and systemic diseases can lead to upper back pain.
Understanding the root causes of this discomfort is essential for effective treatment and prevention. This article will explore the different culprits behind upper back pain and injury, providing valuable insights into their symptoms and potential solutions. Whether you're seeking relief from muscle soreness, nerve pain, or posture-related problems, we have you covered with information on posture syndromes, braces, improvement products, and frequently asked questions to help you journey to a pain-free upper back.
- Scheuermann's Disease
- Spinal Stenosis
- Rib Stress Fracture
Nerve-Related / Referred Pain
- Posture Syndromes
- Posture Improvement: A Guide to Improve Your Posture
- Improving Your Posture: A Guide for Better Health
- How to Achieve Perfect Posture