The role of Exercise for the Management of Scheuermann’s Kyphosis

Scheuermann’s disease is a growth condition in which the normal curve in the upper spine is increased, forming a hunched back. This generally happens because the anterior section of the vertebrae grows faster than the posterior causing the vertebrae to become wedge shaped. Symptoms include tightness, muscle stiffness, pain, muscle spasms, muscular imbalances and limited flexibility. These symptoms often occur around the ages of 10-15 when the spine goes through a considerable growth period and are often misdiagnosed as growing pains.

Those who have Scheuermann’s disease will understand when I ask, please stop telling them to “stand up straight and pull your shoulders back”. This is one of the most difficult movements to sustain and can be quite painful. Not only is it difficult, when someone points out poor posture and requests you to stand straight, it just makes the person with the condition self-conscious that it is being pointed out.

With this rounded posture we also see the shoulders begin to internally rotate due to weak and shortened pectoralis muscles pulling the shoulders forward, which may lead to an increased risk of developing shoulder impingement. This paired with weakens and lengthened muscles through the upper back does not assist with improving posture or managing pain.

To improve this disparity between the two muscle groups taking part in an individualised mobility and strengthening program prescribed by an Exercise Physiologist can make significant improvements in posture, pain, confidence and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries as a result of the condition.

Tiara Williams (B.Sc. – Exercise Physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)

 

References

Idiopathic scoliosis and Scheuermann’s kyphosis. Historical and current aspects of conservative treatment – Boni T

Scheuermann’s Thoracic Kyphosis in the Adolescent Patient – Hart, Erin S.; Merlin, Gabriel; Harisiades, Jamie; Grottkau,