Scheuermann’s kyphosis in adolescents and adults: diagnosis and management.

Tribus CB. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 1998 Jan-Feb;6(1):36-43

Scheuermann’s thoracic kyphosis is a structural deformity classically characterized by anterior wedging of 5 degrees or more of three adjacent thoracic vertebral bodies. Secondary radiographic findings of Schmorl’s nodes, endplate narrowing, and irregular endplates confirm the diagnosis. The etiology remains unclear. Adolescents typically present to medical attention because of cosmetic deformity; adults more commonly present because of increased pain. The indications for treatment are similar to those for other spinal deformities, namely, progression of the deformity, pain, neurologic compromise, and cosmesis. The adolescent with pain associated with Scheuermann’s kyphosis usually responds to physical therapy and a short course of anti-inflammatory medications. Bracing has been shown to be effective in controlling a progressive curve in the adolescent patient. For the adult who presents with pain, the early mainstays of treatment are physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and behavioral modification. In patients, either adolescent or adult, with a progressive deformity, refractory pain, or neurologic deficit, surgical correction of the deformity may be indicated. Surgical correction should not exceed 50% of the initial deformity. Distally, instrumentation should be extended beyond the end vertebral body to the first lordotic disk to prevent the development of distal junctional kyphosis.