Kyphosis refers to an abnormal forward curvature, or hump, that most often occurs in the thoracic (upper) spine area and leads to a hunched over posture. It is also possible to develop similar abnormal curvature in the lumbar (lower) spine, where it is called lordosis.
Kyphosis can develop at any age and affects both men and women.
Some people are born with congenital kyphosis, while others develop it due to poor posture and slouching, compression fractures of the vertebrae that result from degenerating discs, arthritis, osteoporosis and spondylolisthesis, as well as spine infections and spine tumors.
In some cases, kyphosis produces no symptoms or discomfort. In other cases, the symptoms are similar to those of scoliosis, such as:
- A hunched forward appearance
- Mild to severe back pain
- Muscle fatigue
- Stiffness in the back
- Difficulty standing up straight
- Chest pain (in severe cases)
- Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
If kyphosis is suspected, the spine specialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will determine the cause of the condition through a physical exam, patient history, and diagnostic imaging, such as X-ray or MRI scan.
Many cases of kyphosis do not require any treatment. In some cases, bracing, exercise, physical therapy, swimming and other low-impact exercises may help reduce pain symptoms. In cases of severe curvature or chronic pain, surgical intervention may be necessary to reduce the curvature and relieve pain and discomfort over the long term.