Kyphosis (Hunchback)

Kyphosis is a sometimes painful spinal deformity that occurs when vertebrae change from a cylindrical shape to a wedge shape. This change may cause the spine to begin to curve forward. If left untreated, kyphosis can lead to scoliosis and difficulty breathing.

What You Need To Know About Kyphosis

What is Kyphosis?

Kyphosis — also known as rounded back or hunchback — is the result of spinal irregularity that causes the vertebrae to shift from a cylindrical shape to a wedge shape. The difference in shape makes the spine to curve forward, and eventually, your upper back may take on a rounded appearance.

This condition can occur during any age. However, it is common during adolescence. In many cases, kyphosis does not interfere with daily routines. Still, some people may need intervention with medical bracing and physical therapy. Surgical intervention may help people with severe kyphosis.

There are three subtypes of kyphosis. These are postural, Scheuermann's, and congenital.

Postural Kyphosis

Postural is the most frequent type of kyphosis. Typically, it is caused by poor posture and generally occurs in adolescence. Girls are more likely than boys to develop the condition. Usually, physical therapy and exercise can address this type of kyphosis.

Scheuermann's Kyphosis

Scheuermann's kyphosis also appears during adolescence. Unlike postural issues, structural irregularities in the make-up of the spine cause Scheuermann's kyphosis. People with this condition have unevenly shaped vertebrae, which causes their bones to wedge together and therefore exaggerate the upper back's natural curvature. If left untreated, this condition can lead to scoliosis. Patients with Scheuermann's kyphosis will benefit from bracing, physical therapy, and surgical intervention.

Congenital Kyphosis

People with congenital kyphosis were born with a malformed spinal column. Congenital kyphosis can include issues like vertebrae fusing and or bones that never formed. The effects of this condition become greater as the child ages. Surgical procedures during infancy can help treat the disorder and negate any bad effects of the condition.

Getting the right care for your condition starts with a visit to the Resurgens Spine Center. Book an appointment now to learn more about how you can get moving again.

What Causes Kyphosis?

Several different causes can result in kyphosis. It may be caused by osteoporosis, which is a loss of bone density that makes your bones weak and brittle. This can allow your vertebrae to fracture and compress. Age-related conditions like degenerative disc disease can exacerbate symptoms from kyphosis.

Additionally, congenital disabilities can cause this condition, especially when the spinal column has not developed correctly. Broken or overly compressed vertebrae can cause abnormal spine curvature and lead to rounded back. Other factors that can cause kyphosis include cancer treatment, tumors, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and Marfan syndrome.

Symptoms of Kyphosis

If your condition is mild, you may not notice any symptoms. As it progresses, your spine may curve forward. You may experience stiffness or aches in your neck and back. Severe kyphosis may put pressure on your spinal nerves. It may cause your organs to become compressed, which can cause a wide range of problems.

You may experience different symptoms depending on the type of kyphosis and the extent of your condition. A quick overview of potential kyphosis symptoms include:

  • Curved shoulders

  • Hamstring tightness

  • Visible back protrusion

  • Stiffness in the spine

  • Back pain/back tenderness

  • In rarer cases, some people may experience weakness, numbness, or tingling feelings in the legs

Milder forms of kyphosis may not cause noticeable symptoms or visible signs. However, some people may experience debilitating stiffness and pain as a result of their exaggerated curvature. Over time as the disease progresses, some people may experience breathing difficulties.

Make an appointment to see a Resurgens Physician as soon as you notice you — or your child's — spine has an overly curved appearance.

How is Kyphosis Diagnosed?

Getting treatment for kyphosis starts with a visit to the Resurgens Spine Center. Your initial exam will include a thorough investigation of your medical history and genetic history. Be prepared to answer your physician's personal questions about your lifestyle and goals. As part of your exam, your physician may ask you to recreate tasks that trigger symptoms, so expect to experience mild irritation.

Next, your physician will perform some diagnostic tests. These tests are necessary because they can help your physician evaluate your condition and create a treatment plan for your healing. Your physician will be able to use the information from these tests to plan your unique treatment plan.

Treatment Options For Kyphosis

There are many effective non-surgical and surgical treatment options for rounded back. Your physician will create a treatment plan designed to meet your lifestyle and address your condition.

Non-Surgical Treatment

There are a variety of non-surgical options that can provide lasting outcomes for kyphosis. These range from medication to bracing and even physical therapy.

Over-the-counter pain medications can help offset the pain. If your physician thinks that you need a more potent painkiller, they may prescribe a prescription-strength medication. Be mindful of any medication as it may become habit-forming. Additionally, there are rehabilitative physical therapy exercises and stretches that can relieve pain while reducing spine curvature. Some people may also benefit from wearing corrective bracing.

Surgical Treatment

When the spinal cord is pinching the nerve roots or other structures, spinal fusion surgery can alleviate the pressure by stabilizing the spine. During a fusion, your physician joins two or more vertebral bones to secure your spinal structure. Spinal fusion helps prevent further progression of kyphosis and reduce curvature.

Resurgens Orthopaedics is Georgia's most trusted provider of spine care. With over 24 Metro Atlanta locations, it's easier than ever to put back pain behind you. Book your appointment now!

Learn more about the Spine Center at Resurgens Orthopaedics.