Kyphosis is a curving or rounding of the spine that causes a bowing of the back, which leads to a slouching or “hunchback” posture. It can occur at any age and can be caused by a degeneration of the spine, developmental disease, fractures, injuries or osteoporosis.
There are three main types of kyphosis: postural, Scheuermann’s, and congenital and most cases of kyphosis do not require any treatment. The normal curves of the spine allow the head to be balanced directly over the pelvis. If one or more of these curves is either too great or too small, the head may not be properly balanced over the pelvis. This can lead to back pain, stiffness, and an altered gait or walking pattern.
The symptoms usually include difficulty breathing, a slouching back, mild back pain, spinal stiffness or tenderness, and fatigue. Other causes of Kyphosis include polio, spina bifida, tumors and certain endocrine diseases.
Most cases of kyphosis are caused by postural changes and rarely progress to cause serious complications. However, anyone that develops signs or symptoms of kyphosis should be evaluated by a physician to rule out a more serious cause. Additionally, any patient with worsening of symptoms or who develops any weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs or chest pain and shortness of breath should be seen by a physician.
Kyphosis caused by infection or a tumor, needs to be treated more aggressively, often with surgery and medications.