Kyphosis: What Causes a Hunchback

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 21, 2014

kyphosisKyphosis is a spinal condition more commonly referred to as a hunchback. In this article we will talk a bit about Kyphosis, what causes it, and the options available for treatment.

What is Kyphosis?

Kyphosis is similar, but not identical, to scoliosis in that it involves an unnatural curvature of the spine. While scoliosis generally causes the spine to curve serpentine along your back (imagine the spine forming an S shape when looking directly at the back), Kyphosis causes the upper spine to curve forward. This leads to what is more colloquially known as a “hunch back.” A minor amount of curvature of the upper spine is normal.

Causes of Kyphosis

Kyphosis can occur in people of all ages, but is most common in older patients who suffer from osteoporosis. The condition results from compression of the vertebrae in the spine.

Another form of Kyphosis, called postural kyphosis occurs when a person exhibits excessive slouching habits. This type of kyphosis is usually best treated by changing the posture habits of the patient.

To diagnose kyphosis, a physician will perform a physical exam. If they suspect kyphosis, imaging tests (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans) may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment Options

If the curvature is slight, Kyphosis may not require any treatment at all. When the Kyphosis is extreme, however, the curvature can negatively impact other regions of the body like the lungs and nerves.

When the kyphosis impacts other areas of the body and causes the patient pain treatments should be investigated. Initial treatment options may include pain medications coupled with physical therapy or bracing. With extreme curvatures, these conservative methods may not work to correct the kyphosis. If the patient is still experiencing pain after trying out these methods, correctional spinal surgery may be a good option.

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