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Kyphosis

Kyphosis is a condition which leads to forward rounding of the back (When viewed from the side, the spine forms an S-shaped curve. ). The official medical term for abnormal curvature of the thoracic spine is hyperkyphosis It can affect at any age but is very common among older people especially older females due to osteoporosis.

In Infants: They may be born with an abnormal spine segment (a.k.a Congenital Kyphosis). They may usually look normal at birth but the spine deformity gets manifested as the baby grows.

In Teenagers and adolescent: The condition is known as Scheuermann’s kyphosis wherein the vertebrae become wedge-shaped. Surgery allows significant correction to be achieved, usually without needing post-operative bracing. Pedicle screws are inserted and connected with two rods, which allows gentle straightening of the spine.

In Older Population: Kyphosis is often an outcome of weakness in the spinal bones that causes the spine to compress or crack.

Kyphosis is further segregated as mild and severe kyphosis.

  • Mild kyphosis causes fewer problems and
  • Severe kyphosis may cause pain, be uncomfortable in nature and be disfiguring.

Treatment for kyphosis depends on your age and the cause and effects of the curvature.


What are the symptoms of Abnormal Kyphosis?

Mild kyphosis typically does not cause back pain; however, any physical activity, long periods of standing and sitting for longer duration can cause discomfort especially for people having Scheuermann's kyphosis.

Usual Symptoms of Kyphosis include:

  • a) Forward bending of the head as compared to the rest of the body
  • b) A curve or to the upper back
  • c) Fatigue / Tiredness in back or legs
  • d) Poor Posture
  • e) stiffness in the back
  • f) Abnormality in walking

What are the types of kyphosis?

Abnormal Kyphosis is categorised into three main categories :

  • 1. Postural kyphosis: Postural kyphosis is the most common type of kyphosis. This is more common in girls than in boys and typically appears during adolescence. Poor posture (slouching) and a weakening of the muscles and ligaments in the back ( paraspinous muscles) cause postural kyphosis.
  • 2. Scheuermann's kyphosis (Scheuermann's disease) : Scheuermann's kyphosis appears during adolescence. This type of kyphosis is the outcome of a structural deformity of the vertebral column. And are commonly know to develop scoliosis which is known as kyphoscoliosis with Scheuermann's kyphosis than with the other types of kyphosis.
  • 3. Congenital kyphosis is a rare type of abnormal kyphosis. Abnormal development of the vertebral column during development prior to birth causes congenital kyphosis. Congenital kyphosis can lead to several of the vertebrae fusing in kyphosis.

What are the causes of kyphosis?

Abnormal Kyphosis can occur due to:

  • Poor posture
  • Developmental issues
  • Older age
  • Abnormal vertebrae shape

How Is Kyphosis Diagnosed?

To diagnose kyphosis, your doctor may:

  • Examine the spine
  • X-rays: to see the curve
  • MRI: to check if something else might be causing the problem such as an infection or tumour
  • Odour breathing tests: Incase the kyphosis affect breathing, the doctor may ask for Pulmonary Function Test

Treatment for Kyphosis

Treatments option for Kyphosis is focused on preventing the curve from worsening and restoring normal posture as much as possible.

Treatment for kyphosis is decided depending on the type and severity of the curve. A doctor performs a physical examination and looks at scans to decide the type and severity of a patients kyphosis and accordingly determine the best treatment.

A) Nonsurgical treatment for Kyphosis

  • Physical Therapy: Treatment includes physical therapy to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. This usually relieves pressure on the spine and helps in improving posture and reduce discomfort. We usually recommend the patient with postural and Scheuermann’s kyphosis for non-surgical forms of treatment
  • .
  • Braces: This brace is in the form of a jacket that can be worn under clothes and are not visible to the outsider. It does not straighten the curve, however, will keep it from getting worse and stops any form of abnormal growth leading to scoliosis. The more the patients wear it, the earlier they feel better. It is also removable in nature and thus the patient can also preform sports activity if they wish for.
  • Observation. If the doctor feels that the rounding of the back isn't likely to cause any sort of problems, kyphosis may not need any treatment. The patient will need to have routine checkups to ensure the rounding cause any problems. In most cases, the progression will stop when kids are done growing.
  • Surgical treatmentPatients suffering from congenital kyphosis or severe kyphosis and very few cases of postural or Scheuermann’s kyphosis who have not responded to treatment may be recommended for surgery.
    The type of surgery varies from person to person. A common type of surgery for kyphosis is a spinal fusion. This involves welding or fusing several vertebrae together to form a single segment of bone.
    There are other surgical procedures for severe kyphosis involves inserting rods, metal screws, and plates into the spine. This helps in stabilizing and maintaining the spine in one position and increase the rate of fusion of bone grafting. This can reduce the curvature in the upper part of the spine leading to correction of the posture.