(kye-FOH-sis) is a condition affecting the upper back. It makes the upper back rounded
so it looks hunched over. It's sometimes called Scheuermann's disease.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Scheuermann's Kyphosis?
The main signs of Scheuermann's kyphosis are:
A rounded, hunched back. Sometimes the rounding is hard to see.
Other times it can be more noticeable. Kids can't straighten their curve by standing
Back pain. About half of kids with Scheuermann's kyphosis have
The signs of kyphosis often become obvious during the growth spurt that happens
What Causes Scheuermann's Kyphosis?
The small bones (called vertebrae) that make up the spine are usually rectangular.
They stack like bricks with flexible cartilage in between. When a child has Scheuermann's,
the front edge of some of the vertebrae in the upper back grow slower than the back
edge. These vertebrae become wedge shaped, so when the vertebrae stack up, the spine
curves, making the back round out.
Who Gets Scheuermann's Kyphosis?
Doctors don't know exactly why some kids get it, but Scheuermann's kyphosis runs
in families. The signs usually are first seen during or after the puberty growth spurt.
Most kids are between 12 and 15 years old when they're diagnosed.
How Is Scheuermann's Kyphosis Diagnosed?
To diagnose Scheuermann's kyphosis, a doctor will:
examine the spine: the child will stand, bend from the waist, and lie down
get X-rays: to see the curve
do an MRI: if something
else might be causing the problem (such as an infection or tumor)
Kids with Scheuermann's kyphosis will see an orthopedist (a doctor who treats conditions
involving the bones). The orthopedist will examine the spine, look at the X-rays,
and recommend treatment.
Treatment options include:
Observation. If the rounding of the back isn't likely to cause
any problems, kyphosis may not need any treatment. Kids will have routine checkups
to make sure the rounding doesn't start causing problems. Most cases will stop progressing
when kids are done growing.
Back brace. This brace is like a jacket that can be worn under
clothes. It won't straighten the curve, but will keep it from getting worse. Some
kids wear the brace only at night, and others wear it for 18–20 hours a day.
The brace is usually worn until a child stops growing.
therapy. Exercises that strengthen the muscles in the back and core to
support the spine better can sometimes help.
Surgery. Surgery isn't usually needed. But doctors might recommend
a procedure called a spinal
fusion for a severe case that causes pain or breathing trouble.
It's important for teens with Scheuermann's kyphosis to get the right treatment
before growth is finished. The spine usually won't continue to curve after they're
done growing. If your child complains of back pain or has a rounded upper back, talk
to your doctor.