The Effect of Schroth Therapy on Thoracic Kyphotic Curve and Quality of Life in Scheuermann's Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Asian Spine J. 2019 Jun;13(3):490-499. doi: 10.31616/asj.2018.0097. Epub 2019 Jan 24.


Study design: Randomized controlled single-blinded clinical trial.

Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of Schroth therapy on thoracic curve angle, pain, and self-perceived body image (SPBI) of the back in Scheuermann's patients in comparison with the efficacy of classic anti-gravitation exercises.

Overview of literature: Scheuermann disease is the most common cause of hyperkyphosis of the thoracic and thoracolumbar spine during adolescence. However, very few studies evaluated the effect of exercises on the progression of kyphosis in Scheuermann patients. Schroth three-dimensional exercise therapy was found in several studies to be effective in the treatment of adolescent scoliosis, however, we found no randomized controlled trials that evaluated the efficacy of this method in Scheuermann patients.

Methods: A total of 50 young adults (males and females) with Scheuermann's disease were randomly divided into either the experimental group (Schroth therapy treatment, n=25) or the control group (classic anti-gravitation exercises, n=25). Participants in both the groups were provided a course of individual treatment sessions during few weeks, with one appointment per week. They were required to perform the exercises daily throughout the study period (12 months) and fill their performance in a research log. We evaluated the thoracic Cobb angle (main outcome measure), pain, SPBI, flexion of the shoulder (supine), flexion of the shoulder (standing), kyphotic deformity measured using inclinometer, and L5 kyphosis apex line (L5-KAL) as well as administered the Scoliosis Research Society-22 Questionnaire for the participants before the treatment, after 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively. These results were then compared.

Results: In the mixed analysis of variance, the main effect of time was significant in the thoracic kyphosis (F [1]=5.72, p=0.02), and in the L5-KAL (F [1]=5.76, p=0.02). The main effect of time on the kyphotic deformity, measured using an inclinometer, did not reach the significance level; however, it showed the tendency (F [1]=2.80, p=0.07). In the group-by-time interaction, a significant difference was found in the thoracic kyphosis (F [1]=4.91, p=0.03) and in the kyphotic deformity, measured using an inclinometer (F [1]=4.05, p=0.02). Thus, the Schroth therapy group showed significantly greater improvement than the classic anti-gravitation exercises group.

Conclusions: The present findings indicate that back exercises in general, and Schroth therapy in particular, is an effective treatment for preventing and significantly improving the thoracic Cobb angle and symptomatic representation in Scheuermann's patients.

Keywords: Exercise therapy; Physical therapy techniques; Posture; Randomized controlled trials as topic; Scheuermann disease.