What is Scheuermann’s Disease? And, secondly and just as importantly, what causes Scheuermann’s Disease?
The answer to the first question is relatively easy, however the second question possibly remains one of the most misunderstood issues facing so many adolescents and young adults in conjunction with their back pain.
So, let’s get down to what is Scheuermann’s Disease? Scheuermann’s Disease [also known by several other names] is an abnormal condition of the spine resulting in an increase in the curvature of the thoracic spine [the rib region of the spine], resulting in spinal abnormality. The ‘disease’ [or more accurately, it should be referred to as a ‘condition’], generally begins to onset in adolescence. This onset however, can also begin to show itself as late as early adulthood.
With Scheuermann’s, there is undeniable evidence of abnormalities in what is referred to as the end-plates of the vertebrae, with these end-plate abnormalities typically resulting in a wedging of the shape of the vertebrae. The alteration of this part of the spine’s structure [the vertebrae] produces a less-than-ideal supporting mechanism for the body which invariably creates difficulty in carrying heavy loads, or problems associated with the repetitive shock-absorbing aspects of activities such as running, or many of the body-contact sports.
Having been diagnosed with this ‘disease’ myself, and having observed a host of others who have also been similarly diagnosed at various stages of life, I remain unconvinced [as do so many authorities], of the often stated origin or cause of the condition. I would seriously bring into question the validity of calling this condition a ‘disease’, and would further question if the condition, as many would have us believe, has any genetic predisposition at all. It is however, highly likely that particular family habits and activities, or the lack there of, might well play a vital role in the recognition of this condition for what it really is, and in so doing, might give us some vital clues as to how to treat and prevent the high incidences of this particular problem.
What do I mean when I say ‘It is however, highly likely that particular family habits and activities, or the lack there of’? In the modern world, particularly in many of our western societies, the growing tendency has been to become less active at about the same rate as the increasing incidence of obesity. The more sedentary we become, the more vulnerable we become to conditions such as Scheuermann’s, or for that matter, to a condition called scoliosis. In my article on scoliosis I make mention of a massive trend whereby more and more people are suffering back pain due to a loss of the body’s natural symmetry. Scoliosis relates to a loss of symmetry in the left-to-right or right-to-left aspect, resulting in a deviation by the spine from its correct vertical position when viewed from either the back or the front. In many instances [in fact in more cases than not], this acquired deviation can be successfully reversed, and can be done so with great effect resulting in dramatic pain reduction for the sufferer of scoliosis. With Scheuermann’s, the principle is precisely the same, however the condition relates to a deviation from the spine’s natural position when the body is viewed from the side.
In the lumbar spine [the lower five vertebrae], the spine curves forward naturally [anteriorly], in the thoracic spine [the 12 or 13 vertebrae that the ribs attach to], the spine curves backward [posteriorly], and in the cervical spine [the top 7 vertebrae of the spine in the neck region], the spine curves forward [anteriorly].
It is critical to be aware that the pelvis is pivotal, both in the forward/backward aspect, and in the left-to-right aspect. When the pelvis has uneven forces brought to bear upon it, it will pivot, either excessively forward, or backward, or to either side. This deviation of the pelvis is due almost entirely to the forces that are exerted upon it, and contrary to many schools of thought, this occurs from below the pelvis, and not from above it.
Due to the site of the attachment to the pelvis of major muscle groups involved in walking, running and climbing [activities that we tend to do a great deal of when we are young], these muscles can positively or negatively influence the position of the pelvis. The muscles that create the flexion of the hip [bringing the thigh and the hip on the same side closer together], and attach at the upper end to the ASIS [Anterior Superior Iliac Spine], this is the bony protrusion on the front of the pelvis that are positioned widely on either side of the navel, are pivotal to the positioning of the pelvis. When we view the skeletal system from a side-on aspect, we note that these attachment points are forward of the body’s mid [or gravity] line. Therefore, if both sets of hip flexion muscles [predominantly, but not exclusively, the quadriceps], are excessively tight, the pelvis must pivot forwards. This is often referred to as lumbar lordosis. If the hip extensor muscles [which attach to the ischium, i.e. the bony protrusions at the base of the buttocks, and are predominantly but not exclusively the hamstrings], are excessively tight, the pelvis must pivot backward. This particular condition, although not uncommon, is vastly less common than lumbar lordosis, due almost entirely to the fact that we tend to use our quadriceps more often and powerfully than our hamstrings. This backward pivoting [or tilting] of our pelvis is commonly referred to as flat back syndrome.
Both conditions are potentially harmful to the spine, [and therefore potentially very painful to the owner of the spine], because as the pelvis pivots [tilts] either forward or backward from its natural position, every part of the spine above it is adversely affected.
Why is this so? Read more in the next version of the article.
Remember my Back for Life program will help you overcome the pain.
Richard Convery – Proud to be serving Jesus as my Saviour and friend – Isaiah 54:17