Scheuermann’s Disease


I’ve suffered for years with a bad back.  When I was ten I was diagnoses with something called “Scheuermann’s Disease.”

Wikipedia describes it like this:

Scheuermann’s disease is a self-limiting skeletal disorder of childhood. Scheuermann’s disease describes a condition where the vertebrae grow unevenly with respect to the sagittal plane; that is, the posterior angle is often greater than the anterior. This uneven growth results in the signature “wedging” shape of the vertebrae, causing kyphosis. It is named after Holger Scheuermann.

So essentially it’s growing pains, but a little more severe, and it’s not a disease but a condition.  In most cases it’s gone by the time the person has finished growing, so usually by the time the person is twenty-one years old.  They don’t get any pain and suffer nothing more than the memories of being in agony.

For others it can be debilitating.  One lady I knew who had it was on sticks and sometimes in a wheelchair.  Other days she was bed bound, unable to move due to the pain.

Compared to her I’ve been quite lucky.  I don’t have to walk on sticks* and I’ve never been bed bound.  However, I do suffer with back pain on a regular basis.  By regular basis I literally mean daily.  It’s usually a dull ache but it’s there and it gets to me. It annoys me.  Paracetamol does not remove my pain; it never has.

Occasionally I have days where I can’t lift anything.  Getting out of bed is a struggle because sitting causes me pain but I can do it.  Standing for too long, sitting for too long, laying down for too long… you get the picture.  Being in any position for any length of time can cause me pain.  That length of time can be two minutes, it can also be two hours.  It doesn’t have a set pattern other than it’s painful.  Even then in can be the aforementioned dull ache or it can be excruciating twinges that feel like bolts of electricity shooting up my spine and across my shoulders and make it difficult to lift a cup.

There are side effects of having this condition.

Many with Scheuermann’s disease often have an excessive lordotic curve in the lumbar spine; this is the body’s natural way to compensate for the kyphotic curve above. Many with Scheuermann’s disease have very large lung capacities and males often have broad, barrel chests. Most people have forced vital capacity (FVC) scores above average. It has been proposed that this is the body’s natural way to compensate for a loss of breathing depth.

I have a very slight lordotic curve but it’s not noticeable other than when I’m standing up because it looks like I’m slouching a little.  I’ve no idea if I’ve increased lung capacity.  I know I can’t hold my breath very long when under the water so I’m guessing I don’t have that side effect.  I do have a broad chest but not so sure I’d call it a barrel chest and I’ve no idea about my FVC.

If I do too much then I suffer for it a few days later.

Unless you’ve suffered with chronic pain you can never understand how it feels.  Breaking your leg is acute pain, a headache is acute pain, toothache is acute pain.  Acute is severe and sudden whereas chronic is longterm.  Your acute pain is over eventually.  Your leg heals, your headache goes, your toothache passes.  My pain doesn’t.

People often say there’s no pain like childbirth and I’ve also heard them say toothache is the worst pain.  The pain of childbirth goes and toothache is sorted by your dentist.  Now imagine a pain that is always there.  From the moment you wake to the minute you finally fall asleep.

That’s me right now.  Constantly in pain.

When you go to hospital it and say you’re in pain they ask “on a scale of one to ten with ten being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced what would you say you’re at now?”  Right now I’m at four.  Tomorrow could be a two but it could also be a nine.

Throughout all this, do you know what I don’t need?  Someone saying “Have you tried…” or “This is what you should do…”  I’ve had this since I was ten, I assure you I’ve tried everything you’re going to suggest.

Currently I have back pain.  I also fell last Wednesday and twisted my knee.  Walking in the parade at Pride and standing all night watching over the First Aid and security of the street party has made my knee worse to the point yesterday I was in agony, today I’m in pain.  I’m walking with limp but it’ll pass.  I hope.

Pain in one place followed by pain in another.  One will pass, one will not.  I’m sure someone will have some words of wisdom for me.  They’ll think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it.  It won’t be.  By this stage it never is.  You’re better off saying “Can I help in any way?”

The only person who ever hears me complain about the pain I’m in is Brad.  I’m keeping it that way.  No one wants or needs to hear me complain or see my sour face.  Thank yourself lucky because once I start I rarely stop.


*I have a cane but it’s for my knees, not for my back.