Kyphosis of the spine, often referred to as roundback, hunchback, or hyperkyphosis, is a condition where you have excessive forward (more than 50 degrees) curvature of your upper back. Your spine curves naturally in your lower back, upper back, and neck to help support the weight of your head and absorb shock. However, kyphosis occurs when your vertebrae become misshapen, causing this natural curve to become more pronounced than normal.
Individuals with mild kyphosis might not experience any symptoms or notice any signs. However, those with more serious cases of kyphosis might experience back stiffness, pain, and noticeable rounding of their upper back. Kyphosis can sometimes result in excess pressure on your lungs and spine, which leads to trouble with breathing. This is why it’s important to reach out to a professional spine specialist if you suspect you may have kyphosis.
Causes of Kyphosis
The main cause of kyphosis is often osteoporosis. It’s more common in older adults, particularly women, and can cause your bones to weaken, change in shape and size, and may even lead to compression fractures. When osteoporosis occurs in your spine, your bones start changing shape and you start to lean forward, which results in kyphosis. Around 10 million individuals in the U.S. have osteoporosis.
Other common causes of kyphosis include:
- Cancer and Cancer Treatment: Spinal cancer can weaken your vertebrae, and the radiation and chemotherapy treatments can also affect and weaken cartilage and bone.
- Degenerating Discs: Your spinal discs are constructed of tough, fibrous cartilage that may shrink as you age and contribute to kyphosis.
- Compression Fractures: These can occur without any noticeable symptoms. Your fractured vertebrae can bend forward and result in kyphosis. Birth defects and human growth-related diseases and syndromes can contribute to kyphosis.
If you’re experiencing any unusual symptoms and suspect a condition that may or may not lead to kyphosis, reach out to a spinal specialist for an evaluation.
Common Types of Kyphosis
Some common types of kyphosis are:
1. Congenital Kyphosis
This condition occurs when the spine of an infant develops in the womb abnormally. For instance, vertebrae may be fused together or misshapen. Those with congenital kyphosis usually need corrective surgery earlier in life and might experience additional birth defects that affect their kidneys and heart.
2. Postural Kyphosis
This is the most common form of kyphosis and typically develops in adolescence due to clinically poor posture during the time the body is growing rapidly. It’s rare that postural kyphosis is painful and can generally be corrected when the individual stands upright.
In postural kyphosis, the exaggerated spinal curve doesn’t tend to worsen or cause future problems. It tends to impact females more often than males. This can be from hunching over every day from working or from other related activities.
3. Scheuermann’s Disease
The cause of Scheuermann’s kyphosis is a structural spinal abnormality, which usually consists of three or more abnormally shaped vertebrae that can’t be corrected simply by standing upright. The exaggerated curve is usually rigid and can cause pain when you have been sitting or standing for long time periods or engaging in physical activity.
4. Age-Related Kyphosis
Reach Out to the Spine Specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic About Treating your Kyphosis Symptoms
If you’re dealing with mild kyphosis, it shouldn’t affect your life too much. However, a more severe case of kyphosis can lead to pain, breathing issues, and deformity. Surgery can correct this. After receiving kyphosis treatment, it’s essential that you follow up with our spine surgeon here at NJ Spine & Orthopedic regularly to check for spinal changes. Our team of spine experts is well-qualified in providing treatment for kyphosis and other spinal conditions.