for Patients

Kyphosis

Overview

Kyphosis is the abnormal curving of the spine that leads to a bowing or rounding or the back, leading to a hunchback or what appears to be a permanently slouched posture. Kyphosis in adolescents can also be called Scheuermann's disease. In these cases, bones of the spine become wedged together.

Causes

Kyphosis is usually caused by chronic slouching during adolescence, which shifts the position of spinal bones. It can can also be caused by imbalances in hamstrings or hip flexors, or by degenerative diseases like arthritis, compression fractures resulting from osteoporosis, trauma, slipped vertebrae. Less commonly, they are caused by endocrine diseases, infection, muscular dystrophy, neurofibromatosis, Polio and spina bifida. In some cases, it is also caused by spinal tumors.

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Hunchback appearance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tenderness in the spine
  • Stiffness in the spine

Diagnosis

The first step is to observe and measure the curve of the spine. We may also recommend an xray.

Treatment

  • Observation. In some cases, especially for children, we may want to check progress of spine growth every six months to determine if further treatment is necessary.
  • Bracing. In other cases where patients are still growing, a brace may be worn to prevent further curving.
  • Physical Therapy. In adults and adolescents who are finished growing, physical therapy can be used to strengthen core and back muscles, which will help alleviate pain associated with kyphosis.
  • Surgery. For patients whose spine is curved more than 75 degrees, or those in severe pain, a surgery called spinal fusion can stabilize and correct the shape of the spine.