Conditions & Treatments

Kyphosis

Kyphosis is a curvature of the spine that looks like a hunched or rounded back.

Postural kyphosis occurs when poor posture causes the spinal ligaments to stretch. It commonly begins during adolescence and is more common in girls than in boys. While it rarely causes pain, you can correct it by improving your posture, strengthening your abdomen, and stretching your hamstrings. A doctor will ask you to bend over to examine your spine, and a curvature over 50 degrees is considered abnormal. Most adolescents with postural kyphosis will correct the kyphosis with age as their posture improves.

Another type of kyphosis is known as Scheuermann’s kyphosis. While it is also common in adolescents, it is usually found more often in boys than in girls. It is also not painful and usually affects the upper spine. The only way to distinguish between postural and Scheuermann’s is through an X-ray—only in Scheuermann’s will the vertebrae and disks appear wedge-shaped and irregular. Scheuermann’s is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, and an exercise program. If the person is not fully grown, then a spinal brace may be necessary. If the curve becomes greater than 75 degrees, then surgery to straighten and fuse the spinal segments may also be necessary.