6 Tips for Defining and Treating Kyphosis

Kyphosis is a deviation of the spine consisting of an abnormal curvature of the spine. Therefore, kyphosis symptoms usually have a hump-like appearance at the level of the scapula .

It can also be accompanied by symptoms such as pain or shortness of breath. Congenital or other causes include fractures, wear and tear, and osteoporosis.

Certain tests such as X-rays and MRI are performed for diagnosis. Treatment for kyphosis depends on the age and cause and includes  corrective surgery, braces, physical therapy, and some pain medications. Want to know more about this disease?

Kyphosis types and symptoms

kyphosis youth
There are various deviations that can affect the spine. Kyphosis appears as a kind of hump at the level of the scapula.

There are several types of vertebrae . Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the body when viewed from the front or rear. On the other hand, lordosis is an inward curve of the waist, and kyphosis is the third deformity.

The word is derived from the Greek word ‘kyphós ‘ which means ‘bent’ . In particular, kyphosis constitutes an abnormal or exaggerated curvature of the upper back spine . It is observed that the neck, shoulders and head fall forward, arching or rounding in the form of a hump.

Studies have shown that the overall prevalence of dorsal kyphosis is 2.8% . It is less frequent in women (2.1%) than in men (3.6%). However , levels can change by about 30% as you age, such as in postmenopausal women .


There are several types of kyphosis.

  • Posture : Poor posture can cause strains in muscles, bones and joints.
  • Congenital : In some cases, this deviation can be observed from birth.
  • Juvenile kyphosis (dorsal kyphosis) : As the name suggests, it affects the spine.
  • Kyphosis due to age : In the elderly, weakening of bones and muscles can occur, which can lead to this type of deviation.

Kyphosis Symptoms

The most prominent sign of kyphosis is a curvature of the back at the level of the shoulder blades  , which can also be seen in the neck.

In addition, the following symptoms may appear:

  • stiffness of the spine
  • Neck and shoulder tenderness and pain
  • shortness of breath
  • general fatigue
  • Paralysis or difficulty performing some movements

Causes of kyphosis

When kyphosis occurs , the spine loses its shape, wedges, and becomes thicker in one area. Let’s see what the most common causes are.

juvenile kyphosis

Adolescent kyphosis , also referred to as ‘growth dystrophy’ , affects the spinal complex in adolescents . The cause is unknown, but genetic as well as mechanical factors (particularly in athletes) may be involved. In addition to kyphosis, it causes various spinal problems including degenerative disc lesions.

bone weakness

In the elderly, bone weakness and loss of skeletal mass associated with osteoporosis can lead to vertebral curvatures, fractures and deformities, especially in addition to compression fractures of the spine.

injuries and trauma

Besides the aforementioned fractures, there can be other types of injuries affecting from a disc and spinal point of view .

degeneration of the disc

Similarly, with age, the discs that separate the vertebrae and act as cushions between them can become dry or compressed , with possible hernias . This can cause or exacerbate kyphosis.

congenital problem

In some cases , the bones of the spine do not develop well during pregnancy, which in  some cases is associated with conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome .

other causes

Kyphosis can occur in young and old people for the following reasons :

  • tumor treatment
  • cerebral palsy
  • spondylolisthesis
  • hormonal or endocrine disorders
  • connective tissue problems
  • Tuberculosis
  • hyperactivity
  • neurofibromatosis
  • Paget’s disease
  • scoliosis

Kyphosis Diagnosis

kyphosis lung function
Although kyphosis affects older people more, a sedentary lifestyle and prolonged computer use can also contribute to the development of kyphosis.

First of all, the doctor may perform general examinations, mainly including height measurements, as well as  evaluation of reflexes and muscle strength.

In addition, the following imaging tests are performed for various purposes .

  • X-ray : Observe the degree of deviation of the spine and detect abnormalities in the spine.
  • Tomography : if a more detailed study is required
  • MRI: if an infection or tumor is suspected
  • Neurological examination: to detect weakness, paralysis or lack of sensitivity.
  • Bone mineral density measurement : for patients diagnosed with or suspected of osteoporosis
  • Other tests: Lung function tests are done if affected by kyphosis .

kyphosis treatment

Kyphosis treatment depends on the cause of the disease and its severity or progression, as well as the individual’s age . Such treatment may include some of the following alternatives, which may be combined with each other.


Among the recommended medications are usually over- the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen or naproxen . If the pain is severe, other, stronger medications are used, but only with a doctor’s prescription.

On the other hand, if you have osteoporosis, bone strengthening drugs such as alendronate, ibandronate, and risedronate are recommended to help prevent fractures.


Physical therapists can use a variety of techniques to help treat kyphosis .

  • Massage the affected muscle group
  • breathing exercises
  • posture correction
  • electrotherapy, thermotherapy or ultrasound


In severe cases where kyphosis causes compression of the spine or nerves,  surgery may be required if the curve is pronounced (60 degrees) and there is severe pain, infection, or tumor . Spinal fusion is usually performed using metal rods and screws, but recovery can be slow.

Tips for managing and preventing kyphosis

If it is congenital, kyphosis cannot be prevented. However, in other cases , the need for surgery may be reduced by reducing the risk of occurrence or worsening . If you have already been diagnosed with kyphosis, there are ways to keep in mind when it comes to prevention and management.

1. Brace use

The use of partially fixed orthopedic braces may help halt disease progression, particularly in adolescents with kyphosis .

Brace is always used correctly and according to the doctor’s recommendation . In other words, don’t remove it even if it’s uncomfortable.

2. Correct Posture

In particular, the elderly or those who have to sit in front of a computer for a long time at  work need to make an effort to maintain a correct posture . It should also be applied when watching TV or checking a mobile phone.

3. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle

Among the various consequences of a sedentary lifestyle is the loss of muscle mass, strength and endurance due to muscle disuse, which  also affects the back.

4. Weight maintenance

Studies have shown that postural deviations can occur in obese people because of increased direct vertical compressive loading, particularly affecting the spine, knees, and ankles  . It can cause complications in people with kyphosis. Therefore, physical activity and a healthy diet should be an integral part of the treatment of this disease.

5. Back stretching exercises

In some types of kyphosis, patients may experience some improvement with stretching and back strengthening exercises . Some can be done on their own, while others may require the help of a professional, such as a physical therapist.

6. Regular checkup

It is important to get regular check-ups if:

  • If there are individual differences such as scoliosis
  • If you have osteoporosis or are over 60

Remember that early diagnosis can lead to more effective or less invasive treatment.

Kyphosis Possible Consequences and Complications

The measures and treatments mentioned above can reduce the risk of experiencing the complications and various outcomes listed below.

  • back pain that can be a hindrance
  • Shortness of breath : Incorrect curvature can put pressure on the lungs.
  • Task performance: interferes with walking, sitting or looking up,  even driving.
  • Insomnia: Studies show that this disease can affect the quality of rest in some people .
  • Digestive problems: Pressure on the digestive system, especially the stomach, can be related to problems such as regurgitation and difficulty swallowing .
  • Low self-esteem: People with kyphosis may have a negative self-perception of their body image .

Kyphosis Prognosis

The prognosis of kyphosis varies according to the type and severity as well as the individual’s age. Adolescent kyphosis stops progressing when growth stops without surgery . However, you may need to continue wearing the brace.

However, for the elderly, the timing of treatment and adherence to recommendations are very important . In general, bones are weak and complications can occur, so appropriate measures are needed.

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