Scheuermann’s is a condition which affects the thoracic spine. In particular the anterior sections of the thoracic vertebrae where loading occurs are affected, resulting in wedging of the vertebrae. This is caused by a problem with bones ossifying properly and growth plates being affected.
Diagnosis usually takes place in adolescence, with boys mostly affected.
Signs & Symptoms
Increased thoracic kyphosis (curvature of the upper back)
local pain to upper back
Aggravated by repetitive thoracic flexion
What Causes It?
Repetitive flexion (e.g. cycling posture)
How to Self Manage
X-ray investigation is required to confirm the diagnosis. Scheuermann’s is diagnosed if 3-4 levels are affected.
If severe a corset type brace may be required
Surgery would be warranted if spinal cord involvement became apparent or if wedging was at a level of 50 degrees or more
How Physio Helps
Possible diagnosis of the condition as they may be the first point of contact
Referral for x-ray for confirmation
Massage and electrical therapies to reduce pain
Prescription of exercises to improve posture (strengthening of back extensors, abdominals, stretching of hamstrings and back muscles)
Advice about modification of sport and hobbies involving repeated flexion