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Kyphosis

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Kyphosis facts

  • There are three main types of kyphosis: postural, Scheuermann's, and congenital.
  • Most cases of kyphosis do not require any treatment.
  • Physical therapy and exercise are often effective in postural and Scheuermann's kyphosis.
  • Surgery is recommended for congenital kyphosis and more severe cases of Scheuermann's kyphosis.

What is kyphosis?

The spine has a series of normal curves when viewed from the side. These curves help to better absorb the loads applied to the spine from the weight of the body. The cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back) are have a normal inward curvature that is medically referred to as lordosisor "lordotic" curvature by which the spine is bent backward. The thoracic spine (upper back) has a normal outward curvature that is medically referred to as kyphosis or the "kyphotic" curve by which the spine is bent forward. In this discussion, the term kyphosis will be used to discuss abnormal kyphosis.

The spine is normally straight when looking from the front. An abnormal curve when viewed from the front is called scoliosis. Scoliosis can occur from bony abnormalities of the spine at birth, growth abnormalities especially with adolescence, degenerative spinal changes in adulthood, or abnormal twisting of the vertebrae because of muscle spasm after an injury.

The normal curves of the spine allow the head to be balanced directly over the pelvis. If one or more of these curves is either too great or too small, the head may not be properly balanced over the pelvis. This can lead to back pain, stiffness, and an altered gait or walking pattern.

What are the symptoms of kyphosis?

The most common symptoms for patients with an abnormal kyphosis are the appearance of poor posture with a hump appearance of the back or "hunchback." Symptoms may include back pain, muscle fatigue, and stiffness in the back. Most often, these symptoms remain fairly constant and do not become progressively worse with time.

In more severe situations, the patient may notice their symptoms worsening with time. The kyphosis can progress, causing a more exaggerated hunchback. In rare cases, this can lead to compression of the spinal cord with neurologic symptoms including weakness, loss of sensation, or loss of bowel and bladder control. Severe cases of thoracic kyphosis can also limit the amount of space in the chest and cause cardiac and pulmonary problems leading to chest pain or shortness of breath with eventual pulmonary and/or heart failure.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2014

Patient Comments

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Kyphosis - Treatments Question: What treatments were effective for your kyphosis?
Kyphosis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with kyphosis?
Kyphosis - Causes and Types Question: If known, what was the cause of your kyphosis? What type do you have?
Kyphosis - Tests Question: What types of tests and exams did you receive before being diagnosed with kyphosis?
Kyphosis - Therapy and Prognosis Question: Describe the physical therapy exercises that have helped for your kyphosis. What is your prognosis?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/kyphosis/article.htm

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