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Scheuermann's Disease
October 2001

Q. Our 13-year-old daughter has Scheuermann's disease and will be wearing a brace. We're going to see if the vertebrae will fill in and become rectangular rather then wedged. The doctor said it was related to hormonal factors and growth. Is there any way to stimulate this growth? Is there a certain time of the day or activity when the body is growing more (sleep, excercise, etc.)?

A. The cause of Scheuermann's disease is unknown. It affects adolescents, usually between ages 13-16 during a time of growth, in which the vertebrae fail to mature properly. Specifically, the anterior portion (front) of the vertebrae fails to get stronger with growth, causing this portion of the vertebra to collapse on itself. This affects several vertebrae, usually in the chest area, causing the appearance of a rounded back or hunching forward. It can be confused with poor posture, but can be distinguished during a physical exam and confirmed by an x-ray of the spine. Fortunately most cases are mild and respond to the use of a brace and physical therapy. Surgery may be needed in severe cases.




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