Tips for Treating Age-Related Hyperkyphosis

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 10, 2019

Age Related Back Pain

Time isn’t always friendly to our bodies, and that sentiment is especially true for our spine. Due to the decades of stress and natural degeneration that our spine has to deal with, it’s not uncommon for it to shift or develop an irregular curve. That’s the case with age-related hyperkyphosis, and it affects anywhere from 20-40 percent of adults at some point in life. We take a closer look at the condition and how it is treated in today’s blog.

What Is Age-Related Hyperkyphosis

Age-related hyperkyphosis is a spinal condition categorized by an exaggerated anterior curvature of your thoracic spine. Essentially, the curve of your middle spine becomes more severe, and it can lead to a visually hunched appearance. As the name suggests, age is one of the risk factors for the condition’s development, as are poor posture, dehydrated intervertebral discs and weakened spinal extensor muscle strength.

Left untreated, age-related hyperkyphosis can lead to a number of related issues, including:

  • Loss of mobility and range of motion in the rib cage region.
  • Pulmonary problems.
  • Increased stress on the spine, putting you at a heightened risk for vertebral fractures.
  • Increased risk of falling and falling-related fractures.
  • Decreased independence and loss of certain basic functions.
  • Inhibited gait.

Aside from changing a person’s posture, hyperkyphosis also affects your spinal plane and can lead to spinal instability, putting other structures in jeopardy.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although a doctor will want to conduct an X-ray or MRI to get a better understanding of the exact location and severity of the curvature, one positive about the condition is that doctors can make a pretty educated guess that you’re dealing with hyperkyphosis simply by observing your body and your posture. Aside from a visual exam, doctors can identify signs of hyperkyphosis by performing some physical tests, including balance tests and how easily a patient rises out of a chair from a seated position. Suspicions are then confirmed with imaging tests.

Treatment may come in many forms based on the totality of your circumstances. Hyperkyphosis is an extreme curvature of the spine, so for many patients, surgery is the preferred option if they are healthy enough to undergo the procedure. However, that may also be coupled with other helpful strategies, like medications to build bone density and physical therapy to help stabilize the spine. Surgery has a few common goals, and no matter the procedure, the surgeon will be attempting to decrease the curve, prevent further curvature, stabilize the spine and take the stress off certain sections of your spine.

So if you notice that one of your parents or family members are beginning to develop a slightly hunched appearance, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office and see what he can do for you.

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