Like postural kyphosis, Scheuermann’s kyphosis often becomes apparent during the teen years. However, Scheuermann’s kyphosis can result in a significantly more severe deformity than postural kyphosis—particularly in thin patients.
Scheuermann’s kyphosis is caused by a structural abnormality in the spine. In a patient with Scheuermann’s kyphosis, an x-ray from the side will show that, rather than the normal rectangular shape, several consecutive vertebrae have a more triangular shape. This irregular shape causes the vertebrae to wedge together toward the front of the spine, decreasing the normal disk space and creating an exaggerated forward curvature in the upper back.
The curve caused by Scheuermann’s kyphosis is usually sharp and angular. It is also stiff and rigid; unlike a patient with postural kyphosis, a patient with Scheuermann’s kyphosis is not able to correct the curve by standing up straight.
Scheuermann’s kyphosis usually affects the thoracic spine, but occasionally develops in the lumbar (lower) spine. The condition is more common in boys than girls and stops progressing once growing is complete.
Scheuermann’s kyphosis can sometimes be painful… This results when the spine tries to compensate for the rounded upper back by increasing the natural inward curve of the lower back. Activity can make the pain worse, as can long periods of standing or sitting.