Calvé Disease in North Texas

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What is Scheuermann's Disease?

Also known as Calvé disease, Scheuermann’s disease is a disorder that affects the growth of the thoracic and/or lumbar vertebrae in the spine. It causes the back side of the vertebral body to grow as it should while the front grows abnormally and slowly, causing some of the vertebrae to become wedge shaped. Typically developing before puberty, Scheuermann’s disease can cause a rounded upper back and general back pain that is most often associated with periods of inactivity. To reduce the long-term impact of the disease, it’s crucial to seek treatment as early as possible. At Spine Care of North Texas, board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll provides treatments for both adolescents and adults who suffer from Scheuermann’s disease at his offices in Addison and Plano, TX. His aim is to help patients find relief from pain and regain their ability to enjoy life.

What are the Causes of Scheuermann's Disease?

Scheuermann's disease tends to run in families, but its exact cause may have many factors.

These factors may include:

  • The onset of juvenile osteoporosis
  • Malabsorption of certain nutrients early in development
  • Certain infections
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Biomechanical factors, such as a shortened sternum

What Are the Symptoms of Scheuermann's Disease?

There are several symptoms that can occur with Scheuermann’s disease. The most common tend to be muscle spasms, difficulty balancing, pain associated with certain movements, and muscle stiffness. Pain typically only occurs in or around the thoracic spine but can also develop around the lumbar spine. Though it is rare, serious damage can occur with Scheuermann’s disease and harm can be caused to the spinal cord or internal organs. Therefore, it is important to seek medical advice upon noticing signs and symptoms of the condition. 

What Are the Risk Factors of Scheuermann's Disease?

Scheuermann's disease, or Calvé disease, involves specific risk factors that can predispose individuals to this spinal condition, which typically emerges during adolescence. Risk factors associated with Scheuermann's disease include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Juvenile osteoporosis
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Infections
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Biomechanical factors

How is Scheuermann's Disease Diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosing Scheuermann’s disease is a physical examination by Dr. Carll. The exam will typically include an evaluation of posture in order to examine the curvature of the spine. Most often, x-rays will also be needed for an accurate diagnosis. Individuals with Scheuermann’s disease commonly have a spinal curvature of 45 degrees or more, as well as three or more wedged vertebrae. If needed, Dr. Carll may also conduct a CT scan and/or MRI scan.

How is Scheuermann's Disease Treated?

Nonsurgical Options

The initial treatments for Scheuermann’s disease involve taking steps to reduce inflammation and pain, as well as restore movement and mobility. Pain management options may include both over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications. For some patients, Dr. Carll may recommend a back brace in order to help stop or reverse the curving in the spine. In many cases, physical therapy is also suggested to help maintain flexibility and alleviate some pain.

Surgical Options

Surgery is rarely recommended for Scheuermann’s disease unless the amount of wedging of the vertebra is so great that it's impossible to achieve a normal posture, or if it is creating neurological issues. The surgical procedure for Scheuermann’s disease involves removing the discs in the affected thoracic region, inserting bone grafts into those spaces, and allowing the grafts to fuse the thoracic section of the spine. Within the same surgical procedure, a series of rods and wires will also be inserted and attached to the remaining vertebrae in the thoracic region to stabilize it. Since the thoracic region of the spine already has a limited range of motion, the fusion procedure will not greatly affect the patient’s range of motion or flexibility.

Scheuermann's Disease FAQ

What are the symptoms of Scheuermann's disease?
Symptoms usually develop in the early teens at around 10-15 years of age. These include a noticeable curvature of the spine, poor posture, back pain, and fatigue. The condition is characterized by a rigid spinal curvature that worsens with bending and partially corrects when standing straight. In some cases, Scheuermann's disease co-occurs with scoliosis.

How is Scheuermann's disease diagnosed?
Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and X-rays of the complete spine. X-rays can show excessive kyphosis and specific changes like wedging of three or more adjacent vertebrae and Schmorl's nodes, which are small herniations of discs in the vertebrae's endplates.

Who is most likely to develop Scheuermann's disease?
Scheuermann's disease commonly develops in adolescents, with males being twice as likely as females to develop this condition. It arises during periods of rapid growth and is characterized by the wedging of vertebrae, causing an abnormal curvature of the spine.

Experience Pain Relief

Board-certified Dallas-based spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll is passionate about providing his patients with solutions to their spine problems. Developmental issues such as Scheuermann’s disease can be physically and emotionally challenging to live with. Dr. Carll and his staff understand, and they are prepared to help your family. Contact Spine Care of North Texas to schedule your appointment today.

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