What Is Kyphosis?

Some degree of rounded curvature of the spine is normal. The term kyphosis is used to describe the spinal curve that results in an abnormally rounded back.

What Causes Kyphosis?

Kyphosis, also known as roundback or hunchback, is a condition in which the spine in the upper back has an excessive curvature. The upper back, or thoracic region of the spine, is supposed to have a slight natural curve. The spine naturally curves in the neck, upper back, and lower back to help absorb shock and support the weight of the head. Kyphosis occurs when this natural arch is larger than normal.

If you have kyphosis, you may have a visible hump on your upper back. From the side, your upper back may be noticeably rounded or protruding. In addition, people with hunchback appear to be slouching and have noticeable rounding of the shoulders. Kyphosis can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain. It may also cause breathing difficulties due to pressure put on the lungs.

Kyphosis in elderly women is known as dowager’s hump.

What Are The Symptoms of Kyphosis?

The primary symptom of kyphosis is an abnormal forward curve in the upper part of the spine. It causes the upper back to appear hunched over, with the shoulders rounded forward.

In mild cases, the spinal curve is not always noticeable. In other instances, a person may look as if they are bending forwards.

Kyphosis often occurs without any other symptoms. However, other symptoms can include:

  • back pain
  • stiffness in the upper back
  • a rounded back
  • tight hamstrings

What Are The Treatment Options For Kyphosis?

Treatment will depend on the reason for the deformity. Most teens with postural kyphosis will do well throughout life. The posture of some patients with postural kyphosis may improve over time. An exercise program may help relieve any associated back pain.

Nonsurgical Treatment

An initial program of conservative treatment that includes exercises and anti-inflammatory medications (for discomfort) is recommended for patients with Scheuermann’s kyphosis.

If the patient is still growing, the doctor may prescribe a brace. The patient typically wears the brace until skeletal maturity is reached.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be recommended if the kyphotic curve exceeds 75°. The goals of surgery are:

  • To reduce the degree of curvature by straightening and fusing the abnormal spinal segments together
  • To maintain the improvement over time
  • To alleviate significant back discomfort, if present preoperatively.

Our team is here for you

We offer the best, least invasive and least aggressive options to relieve your pain and symptoms so you can get back to the life you love. Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists Spine and Scoliosis Care Center has convenient locations in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake.