Kyphosis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Kyphosis is a forward rounding of your upper back this disorder may cause a deformity described as humpback or hunchback. It is excessive or pathologic when it is measured more than the normal 20 to 45 degrees on an x-ray viewed from the side. In children as well as adults, kyphosis can cause a humpback look. It can also be painful. In more serious cases, kyphosis can cause problems in the heart and lungs. It may make it more likely that your child will one day develop arthritis in his back.

Types of kyphosis

Postural kyphosis.

Scheuermann’s kyphosis

Congenital kyphosis


During life, several events can distort the spine. Because the natural tendency of the thoracic spine is to curve forward, any weakness of the supporting structures will tend in that direction. A diseased thoracic vertebra (a spine bone) will ordinarily crumble its forward edge first, increasing the kyphotic curve.

Other causes of kyphosis include the following:

* Infection
* Neurofibromatosis
* Connective tissue disorders
* Muscular dystrophy
* Spina bifida
* Disk degeneration
* Certain endocrine diseases
* Paget’s disease
* Polio
* Tumors


The first symptom in 75% of patients is low back pain that is usually most severe in the morning or after inactivity. The pain improves with exercise, as opposed to many other forms of back pain. In mild cases, kyphosis may produce no noticeable signs or symptoms. However, signs and symptoms may include:

* Slouching posture or hunchback
* Mild back pain
* Spinal stiffness or tenderness
* Fatigue


Treatment will depend on the reason for the deformity. Most teens with postural kyphosis will do well throughout life. In some, their posture may improve over time. An exercise program may help with back pain, if present.

Kyphosis can be detected by physical examination by a doctor and an X-ray. The doctor will look for an abnormal curvature of the spine and weakness, paralysis, or changes in sensation below the level of the curve.

Treatment most often consists of wearing a spinal brace or sleeping on a rigid bed. In mild kyphosis, the spine may straighten slightly with treatment, although symptoms may not improve. It is unclear whether treating mild kyphosis prevents the curve from worsening. Congenital kyphosis requires corrective surgery at an early age. Scheuermann’s disease is initially treated with a brace and physical therapy.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a good diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.