Kyphosis

Kyphosis

What is kyphosis?

A normal spine, when viewed from behind appears straight. However, a spine affected by kyphosis shows evidence of a forward curvature of the back bones (vertebrae) in the upper back area, giving an abnormally rounded or "humpback" appearance.

Illustration of a child with kyphosis
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Kyphosis is defined as a curvature of the spine measuring 50 degrees or greater on an X-ray (a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film). The normal spine can bend from 20 to 45 degrees of curvature in the upper back area. Kyphosis is a type of spinal deformity.

What causes kyphosis?

Kyphosis can be congenital (present at birth), or due to acquired conditions that may include the following:

Kyphosis is more common in females than males.

What are the symptoms of kyphosis?

The following are the most common symptoms of kyphosis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Back pain, pain down the legs, and changes in bowel and bladder habits are not commonly associated with kyphosis. A person experiencing these types of symptoms requires further medical evaluation by a doctor.

The symptoms of kyphosis may resemble other spinal conditions or deformities, or may be a result of an injury or infection. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is kyphosis diagnosed?

The doctor makes the diagnosis of kyphosis with a complete medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. If the patient is a child, the doctor obtains a complete prenatal and birth history of him or her and asks if other family members are known to have kyphosis. The doctor also will ask about developmental milestones since some types of kyphosis can be associated with other neuromuscular disorders. Developmental delays may require further medical evaluation.

Diagnostic procedures may include the following:

Early detection of kyphosis is important for successful treatment. Pediatricians or family doctors, and even some school programs, routinely look for signs that kyphosis may be present.

Treatment of kyphosis

Specific treatment for kyphosis will be determined by your doctor based on:

The goal of treatment is to stop the progression of the curve and minimize deformity. According to the Scoliosis Research Society, treatment may include:

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