Kyphosis is an exaggerated backward curvature of the thoracic region within the spinal column. While Scoliosis and Kyphosis both refer to the curved malformations of the vertebrae, Kyphosis is a vertical curvature of the spine, which gives the appearance of a hunchback or excessive slouching. On the other hand, Scoliosis curves the spine to the side, and this gives the appearance of an individual leaning to the side. Individuals with Kyphosis will be found to have an abnormally rounded back.
This spinal condition can occur at any age, but it is commonly found in older women. In rare cases, Kyphosis may also affect children and adolescents. Indeed, Kyphosis can be present at birth and it is usually associated with Scheuermann’s disease.
Causes of Kyphosis
Kyphosis can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as:
- Poor posturing
- Spina bifida or other abnormal vertebrae development that is present at birth
- Trauma, or fractures
- Degenerative Diseases
- Scheuermann’s disease – This condition causes the spine to curve forward in the upper back area. The cause of this condition is currently unknown, but it is commonly found to be hereditary in nature.
In mild/minimal cases, Kyphosis does not produce any painful ailments or symptoms. However, there are severe cases where individuals experience back pain and stiffness.
Kyphosis is accompanied with some noticeable symptoms with regards to appearance:
- The head may bend forward compared to the rest of the body
- Evident Hump or curve to the upper back
- Different in shoulder height or positioning
- Tightened muscles in the hamstrings
- Weakness in back or legs
Treatment options vary depending on the severity, the age of the patient and associated conditions or diseases.
Treatments may comprise of:
Physical Therapy: A physical exercise routine will be utilized by means of stretching and strengthening to improve muscles and flexibility. Aerobics will also be used to improve posture.
Chiropractic Care: Spinal manipulation is also a beneficial option for all patients who are suffering from Kyphosis. It is provided for patients who necessitate alleviation of their pain. It also used to help relieve symptoms.
Medications: Anti-inflammatory, pain relieves or other medications may be provided to ease pain or discomfort.
Bracing: For children who are suffering from Scheuermann’s disease, Bracing may be applied to stop the progression of Kyphosis. The type of brace and the duration of the time for the patient to wear the brace will ultimately depend on the severity of the spinal deformity.
Spinal Surgery: For more severe cases, Spinal surgery may be recommended. The procedure known as Spinal Fusion is the most commonly utilized treatment to correct severe spinal curvatures. It is highly recommended when the curvature of the spine protrudes beyond the normal structure, and when bracing and physical therapy fail to improve the progression of the spine. Spinal fusion will be used to stabilize the curvature of the spine, while improving balance, structure and function in the process.