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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?

  • Trauma

  • 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

  • Joint mobilisation

  • 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

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