Scheuermann Disease and Thoracic Pain After a Car Accident

Question: What is causing thoracic back pain?

I have a 29 year old son who was recently involved in an accident. Since this, he has been experiencing thoracic pain which radiates to his lumbar region. A recent MRI report states "consider Scheuermann disease." I have researched this disease extensively and as my son has never had childhood or adolescent back pain, this diagnosis makes no sense.

Please would you advise me on possible misdiagnosis of this condition or what else could be wrong with my son’s back.

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Doctor's Response: Consider scheuermann's disease and a musculoligamentous strain

Scheuermann disease is a disease affecting the thoracic spine predominantly in teenagers. Many times there are no symptoms, but sometimes there can be mild pain. It can cause an exaggerated rounding of the midback, and over time it can be harder for the patient to extend (bend backward).

There are very characteristic changes on x-rays that, when found, typically lead to mentioning Scheuermann disease in the report. For your son, however, it should be considered likely that he has a musculoligamentous strain of the midback muscles caused by the car accident. This pain is easily treated with analgesics (pain medications such as Tylenol or topical creams), physical therapy or chiropractic. This type of pain usually resolves within weeks to up to three months post-accident.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.