Kyphosis, similar to scoliosis, is a condition of abnormal spine curvature that causes rounding of the upper back or a hunchback. The thoracic portion of the spine normally has a “C”-shaped curve, but excessive forward curve in the spine leads to kyphosis. Kyphosis most commonly affects the thoracic spine, but can involve the cervical and lumbar portions as well.
The two most common types of Kyphosis are: Scheuermann's Kyphosis & Postural Kyphosis.
Causes & Symptoms:
Kyphosis may develop as a result of metabolic problems, neuromuscular conditions, spina bifida, osteoporotic fractures, traumatic injuries and slippage of vertebral disc. In the case of Scheuermann's kyphosis, the exact cause is not known.
The symptoms of kyphosis may vary based on the severity, ranging from a minor change in the shape or appearance of the back to more severe nerve problems and long lasting back pain. There may be weakness in the legs because of the pressure exerted on the spinal cord and nerve from the spinal curvature. Difficulty in breathing may also develop as a result of pressure over the lungs.
One of our Children's Ortho doctors will take a brief history which includes family history, history of present symptoms. A careful physical examination will also be done to evaluate the spine movement, strength of the muscles and sensation in order to make a proper diagnosis and also rule out other similar conditions. Some diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI scan and CT scan may be ordered to see the structure of the spine and measure the curve. The MRI and CT scan helps in identifying nerve and spinal cord abnormalities. Click here to best prepare your child for his/her visit with COA.
Kyphosis has several treatment options ranging from the most conservative methods to surgical correction of the spine. Conservative treatment is most often the first choice and includes medications, exercises, casts and support braces to the spine. In cases where osteoporosis is the cause of kyphosis, slowing the progression of osteoporosis is recommended with the intake of vitamin D and calcium supplements, hormone replacement therapy and regular exercises.
Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Even when the kyphosis curve cannot be corrected with exercise, there is hope that the pain may still get relieved. Physical therapy sessions may be scheduled two-three times in a week and should be continued for up to six weeks. Physical therapy exercises and a rehabilitation program can help to:
- Control pain
- Improve strength and mobility
- Improve the ease of performing daily activities
Spinal surgery is considered as a last treatment option due to the risks and complications that may occur. It is only recommended when the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks. The situations in which surgery for kyphosis may be considered include:
- Chronic severe pain
- Progression of the curvature to a more severe form
- Cosmetic reasons
The goal of surgery is to straighten the spine and join the vertebrae to form a solid bone, thus reducing the deformity. Similar to the methods used in scoliosis surgery, metal screws, and rods are typically used to hold the vertebrae in place during the fusion.
If your child has been diagnosed with kyphosis or if they are experiencing back pain, schedule an appointment with us today.