What is Scheuermann’s Disease?
Scheuermann’s disease is a deformity of the spine. It affects the thoracic and lumbar spines of teenage patients. Specifically, patients who are between the ages of twelve and fifteen will show signs of the congenital condition. The patient’s growth spurt usually triggers the condition. Back pain is the primary symptom of Scheuermann’s disease. Generally, the pain lessens as the patient ages. The spine becomes deformed because the vertebrae are wedge-shaped rather than the normal rectangular shape. Unlike other forms of kyphosis, the deformity of the spine is not corrected when the patient stands upright. In addition to spine curvature deformity, the patient might also have tight hamstring muscles. The disease is diagnosed if the thoracic spine has developed into a curve greater than 45 degrees. Fortunately, most patients can live otherwise regular lives. Blue collar workers are more likely to experience disease-related complications.1
Scheuermann’s Disease Treatment
Luckily, there are ways for patients to manage their Scheuermann’s disease. Inflammation can be treated with ice therapy and certain exercises recommended by the doctor or chiropractor. A physiotherapist will also recommend soft tissue massage. After pain management, treatment will turn to restoring range-of-motion. Next, improving the muscles in the back to restore movement and posture is important. Many patients will be able to return fully to regular activities if treatment goes well. However, patients have to be mindful of how they twist and bend during physical activities. Furthermore, the patient has to maintain their strength and flexibility to prevent future complications. Some patients will need a posture brace to help correct the curvature of the spine. Unfortunately, some patients will experience ongoing reduced range-of-motion and postural issues from the spinal deformation. However, the majority of Scheuermann’s disease patients will be able to live normal lives.2
What is Kyphosis?
Patients who suffer from thoracic kyphosis experience an exaggerated rounding of the back. The rounding causes the patient’s spine to curve forward. Older women are more likely to have kyphosis. When Scheuermann’s disease is not the cause, kyphosis is usually age-related. Age can cause the vertebrae to compress or crack due to weakness. Additionally, fractures, osteoporosis, and cancer are some of the other causes of kyphosis. Kyphosis can be a symptom of a syndrome, like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome. Further, kyphosis can be mild or severe. The latter condition can be very painful and disfiguring. Symptoms include back pain, stiffness, and abnormal curvature of the spine. In addition, patients may experience breathing difficulty, digestive problems, poor body image, and limited physical abilities. It is important that the patient seek medical advice as soon as they notice increased curvature in the thoracic spine.3
Patients might be told to try to take medication to relieve the back pain of kyphosis. In cases where the spinal deformation worsens, patients will have to use a brace. The brace should help correct the spine and prevent future deformation. Unfortunately, bracing is an ineffective treatment option for adults. It only works for kyphosis patients who are still growing. The most common type of brace used for kyphosis is the TLSO brace, also known as the Boston brace. Fortunately, most kyphosis patients do not need to undergo invasive treatment. Patients whose thoracic spinal curve is larger than 80 or 90 degrees, or when the curvature extends lower on the spine, will need surgery. Furthermore, patients who experience disabling back pain or compression of the spinal cord may need surgery. In additional to traditional treatment, physical therapy and spinal manipulation are treatment options for kyphosis.4
Exercises For Kyphosis
Exercise is an important part of treating kyphosis. Additionally, studies have shown that exercise can delay the progress of kyphosis. Patients should always listen to their physical therapist, chiropractor, or doctor about what types of exercises are helpful. Some forms of physical exertion can do more harm than good for patients who have kyphosis. There are several types of exercises that a healthcare professional could recommend. Patients might try head retraction, Superman pose, life extension, practice good posture, or use a foam roller on the thoracic spine. One purpose of the exercises is to stretch and lengthen the curved and tight spine. If an exercise is causing pain, the patient should immediately stop. Patients should practice the exercises regularly, in addition to other approved physical activities in order to build strength and flexibility. Rest is another important part of treatment, though too much rest can be harmful.5
Chiropractic For Kyphosis
For many patients, chiropractic care is a viable, non-surgical treatment option for kyphosis. Usually, chiropractors do not recommend pain medications or surgery unless they are necessary. Chiropractic manipulation can help reduce inflammation, decrease muscle spasms, increase range-of-motion in the back, reduce chronic pain, and slow degeneration of the spine. Spinal manipulation is a form of gentle thrusting that allows the chiropractor to stretch the soft tissue and stimulate the nervous system. The flexion-distraction technique is a form of spinal manipulation that does not use thrusting. Another form of non-thrusting spinal manipulation is instrument-assisted manipulation. The chiropractor may also employ electrical stimulation or ultrasound to decrease inflammation and enhance circulation. There are also a few types of manual therapy that the chiropractor could use. Trigger point therapy relieves tension in painful points in the muscles. The Graston technique, a form of instrument-assisted therapy, treats injured tissues.6
In addition to physical therapy and chiropractic care, massage therapy is another treatment option for Scheuermann’s disease and kyphosis. In many cases, chiropractors and massage therapists will share an office because massage complements chiropractic care. Massage therapy for kyphosis can promote circulation, stretch muscles, relieve pain, reduce trigger points, and help the patient retain normal alignment. Massage techniques such as Swedish massage, myofascial release, and muscle stripping may be used as part of treatment. The therapy should not be too rough, and patients should voice any issues that they have with the treatment. Any patient who suffers from a condition should inform their massage therapist of their condition. At home, patients can practice self-massage, avoid poor posture, and regularly perform light stretches to relieve tightness.7
Find out more about treatment of kyphosis