(See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children Overview of Bone Disorders in Children Bone disorders can be caused by injury, infection, or cancer, be inherited, occur as part of a child’s growth, or occur for no known reason. Some bone disorders can cause pain and difficulty... read more .)
The upper back normally curves forward somewhat. Some children have a greater degree of curvature. The excessive curvature may be
In flexible kyphosis, children can straighten the spine by tightening their muscles and the backbones (vertebrae) are normal. The cause is not known. Muscle-strengthening exercises may help, but no other specific treatment is needed.
In fixed kyphosis, children cannot straighten the spine because several of the vertebrae in the upper back are wedge-shaped rather than rectangular. Usually, 3 or more vertebrae are involved. Rarely, infants are born with fixed kyphosis, but it more commonly develops later in life, usually in adolescence. There are many rare causes, including fractures, infections, and cancer, but the most common cause is Scheuermann disease Scheuermann Disease Kyphosis is an abnormal curving of the spine that causes a humpback. (See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children.) The upper back normally curves forward somewhat. Some children have a... read more .
Kyphosis often causes no symptoms. Sometimes mild, persistent back pain develops. Kyphosis may be noticed only because it alters the body’s appearance. The shoulders may appear rounded. The upper spine may appear more curved than normal, or a hump may be visible. Some people have an appearance similar to those with Marfan syndrome Marfan Syndrome Marfan syndrome is a rare hereditary disorder of connective tissue, resulting in abnormalities of the eyes, bones, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and central nervous system. This syndrome is caused... read more , in whom the limbs are much longer than the trunk.
Mild kyphosis that does not cause symptoms is sometimes detected only during a routine physical examination. A doctor may confirm the diagnosis of kyphosis by taking x-rays Plain X-Rays X-rays are high-energy radiation waves that can penetrate most substances (to varying degrees). In very low doses, x-rays are used to produce images that help doctors diagnose disease. In high... read more of the spine.
Treatment of kyphosis Treatment Kyphosis is an abnormal curving of the spine that causes a humpback. (See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children.) The upper back normally curves forward somewhat. Some children have a... read more is the same as described for Scheuermann disease.
Kyphosis: A Humpback
Scheuermann disease is the most common form of fixed kyphosis. It usually begins in adolescence, affecting boys slightly more often than girls. The cause of Scheuermann disease is unknown, but it sometimes runs in families. Scoliosis Scoliosis Scoliosis is abnormal curvature of the spine. Scoliosis can be present at birth or can develop during adolescence. Mild forms may cause only mild discomfort, but more severe forms can cause... read more , a sideways curvature of the spine, also often develops in children with kyphosis (called kyphoscoliosis).
Scheuermann disease is an osteochondrosis, which is a group of disorders of the growth plate of bones Overview of Bone Disorders in Children Bone disorders can be caused by injury, infection, or cancer, be inherited, occur as part of a child’s growth, or occur for no known reason. Some bone disorders can cause pain and difficulty... read more that occur when the child is growing rapidly. Doctors are not sure what causes osteochondrosis, but the disorders do seem to run in families. Osgood-Schlatter disease Osgood-Schlatter Disease Osgood-Schlatter disease is painful inflammation of the bone and cartilage at the top of the shinbone (tibia). This disease is caused by overuse of the leg. Typical symptoms include pain, swelling... read more , Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease involves destruction of the hip in children. This disease is caused by a poor blood supply to the upper growth plate of the thighbone near the hip joint. Typical... read more , and Köhler bone disease Köhler Bone Disease Köhler bone disease is death (necrosis) of the tarsal navicular bone (a bone at the arch of the foot) due to loss of its blood supply. (See also Overview of Bone Disorders in Children.)... read more are other osteochondroses.
Severe kyphosis is more likely to cause discomfort and sometimes can restrict chest motion, causing lung disease.
Scheuermann disease may be discovered at school during a routine screening for spinal problems. Doctors confirm the diagnosis of Scheuermann disease by taking x-rays of the spine. Sometimes magnetic resonance imaging Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a strong magnetic field and very high frequency radio waves are used to produce highly detailed images. MRI does not use x-rays and is usually very safe... read more (MRI) or computed tomography Computed Tomography (CT) In computed tomography (CT), which used to be called computed axial tomography (CAT), an x-ray source and x-ray detector rotate around a person. In modern scanners, the x-ray detector usually... read more (CT) is done.
Treatment of Scheuermann Disease
Reducing weight-bearing and strenuous activities
Rarely a brace or surgery
Mild kyphosis can be treated by reducing weight-bearing stress and by avoiding strenuous activities. The spine may straighten slightly with treatment, although symptoms may not lessen. It is unclear whether treating mild kyphosis prevents the curve from worsening.
When kyphosis is more severe, treatment most often consists of wearing a spinal brace or sleeping on a rigid bed. Treatment may lessen symptoms and prevent the curve from worsening.
Rarely, despite treatment, kyphosis worsens to such an extent that surgery is needed to straighten the spine.