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Kyphosis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Oct 17, 2023

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Causes Of Kyphosis

Symptoms Of Kyphosis

What are the different types of kyphosis?

What is postural kyphosis?

What is the Scheuermann's kyphosis?

What is congenital kyphosis?

Diagnosis Of Kyphosis

Treatment Of Kyphosis

Therapy

Surgical and Non-surgical approaches

Complications Of Kyphosis

Kyphosis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Kyphosis is a severe forward rounding of the upper back.

Elderly people typically develop kyphosis as a result of the spinal bones' deterioration, which causes compression or cracking. Children or teenagers may develop other types of kyphosis due to spinal deformity or the gradual wedging of the spinal bones.

Rarely do problems arise from mild kyphosis. Kyphosis that is too severe can hurt and look bad. How you are treated depends on the cause, degree, and age of your kyphosis.


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Causes Of Kyphosis

The bones that make up a healthy spine are called vertebrae, and they resemble cylinders arranged in a column. Kyphosis happens when the back vertebrae begin to resemble a wedge.

The following factors can change the vertebral shape:

  • Fractures: A fractured vertebra may cause the spine to bend. Compression fractures, which can happen when a bone is weak, are the most common kind of fractures. Mild compression fractures typically don't show any overt symptoms or warning signs.
  • Osteoporosis: Weak bones can cause spinal curvature, especially if delicate vertebrae sustain compression fractures. Osteoporosis is more prone to occur in older women and those who have taken corticosteroids for a long time.
  • The degradation of a disc: Soft, spherical discs, act as spacers between the spinal vertebrae. These discs become flatter and smaller as we age, which frequently makes kyphosis worse.
  • Scheuermann's disease: The growth spurt before puberty is when this medical condition, also known as Scheuermann's kyphosis, frequently begins.
  • Other issues: The spine's bones not properly forming before birth might cause kyphosis. Other medical conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may also be present in children with kyphosis.

Symptoms Of Kyphosis

The main indicator of kyphosis is an upper back hump or rounded shoulders. Having tight hamstrings, which are the muscles in the back of your thigh, is another indication.

Additionally, those with a more extreme curvature may display the following signs:

  • Pain or stiffness in the back and shoulder blades.
  • Legs that feel weak and tingling.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • They may experience breathing difficulties or shortness of breath as a result of their spine pressing against their airways.
  • Balance issues.
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence.

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What are the different types of kyphosis?

Postural kyphosis, Scheuermann's kyphosis, and congenital kyphosis are the three most common types of kyphosis.

What is postural kyphosis?

The most common type of kyphosis, postural kyphosis, often appears throughout adolescence. By slouching or adopting poor posture, the muscles and ligaments that hold the vertebrae (spinal bones) in place are stretched. The vertebrae are stretched out of their normal positions by the stretching, giving the spine its rounded shape.

Postural kyphosis

  • Has a flexible curve, the curvature of which is position-dependent.
  • Happens in adolescence and affects girls more frequently than guys.
  • Rarely causes pain or other problems.

What is the Scheuermann's kyphosis?

This variety is named after the radiologist who initially found the disease. It occurs when the vertebrae are shaped differently. The vertebrae are not rectangular but rather shaped like a wedge. The wedge-shaped bones' forward curving creates the rounded look of the spine.

Scheuermann's kyphosis

  • Is more prevalent in adolescence and affects boys more than girls.
  • Is occasionally worse than postural kyphosis, especially in underweight people.
  • Produces a stiff curve instead of a flexible shape; changing location will not change the curvature.
  • Might be uncomfortable, especially after exercising or spending a lot of time standing or sitting.

What is congenital kyphosis?

Being born with a congenital ailment means you have it. An individual's spine is impacted by congenital kyphosis from birth.

Kyphosis from birth:

  • Can get worse as your kid gets older.
  • Usually needs early surgery to stop the curvature from getting worse.
  • Other congenital anomalies that affect the heart and kidneys may also exist.

Diagnosis Of Kyphosis

In general, your doctor will measure your height as part of a thorough physical examination. You could be asked to lean forward from the waist as the doctor examines your spine from the side. You might also undergo a neurological exam to test your reflexes and physical stamina.

It is possible to ask for the following tests:

  • X-rays or CT scans: X-rays can detect anomalies in the vertebrae and quantify their degree of curvature. A CT scan might be recommended if your doctor needs more accurate images.
  • MRI: A strong magnetic field and radio waves are used in MRIs to detect cancers or infections in the spine.
  • Nerve tests: If you experience numbness or have weak muscles, testing may be required to determine how well nerve impulses are traveling from your spinal cord to your limbs.
  • To determine bone density: Low-density bone may make kyphosis worse, but this disease is commonly medicated.

Treatment Of Kyphosis

You might require kyphosis treatment, depending on the cause and extent of your sickness.

Options for treating kyphosis include:

  • Medicines for treating pain: If over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) are insufficient, stronger painkillers are only available with a prescription.
  • Drugs to treat osteoporosis: A bone-strengthening medication may be able to prevent further spinal fractures that would worsen your kyphosis.

Therapy

Certain types of kyphosis may be cured by:

  • Exercises: Stretching and strengthening exercises may help to alleviate back pain and improve spinal flexibility.
  • Bracing: A child with Scheuermann's disease may be able to stop the progression of kyphosis if they wear a spine brace while their bones are still growing.

Surgical and Non-surgical approaches

Severe kyphosis might sporadically squeeze the spinal cord or nerve roots. Surgery might be required to address this. The most popular procedure is spinal fusion, in which the surgeon uses metal rods and screws to fix the spinal bones in the optimal position.

Compression fractures are rarely treated surgically.

Complications Of Kyphosis

Some of the complications of kyphosis are mentioned below:

  • Back pain is one of the complications of kyphosis.
  • Limited physical capacity: Weaker back muscles, difficulty getting up from a chair, and difficulty walking are all symptoms of kyphosis. The curvature of the spine can also make it unpleasant to lie down and challenging to look up or drive.
  • Problems with digestion: Acid reflux and swallowing difficulties may come from the digestive tract being compressed severely by kyphosis.
  • A poor sense of one's body: Due to their rounded backs, kyphosis patients, especially adolescents, may experience problems with body image.

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