Kyphosis generally refers to abnormal spinal curvature causing a hunchback or slouching posture. This spinal disorder typically affects the thoracic spine and, sometimes, the cervical spine.

There are three types of kyphosis: Postural, Scheuermann’s and congenital kyphosis.

Kyphosis caused by poor posture is called postural kyphosis. Postural kyphosis usually occurs in adolescents and presents itself in girls more than boys. In most cases, this type of kyphosis can be corrected with physical therapy and exercise, and doesn’t require any medical treatment.

Scheuermann’s Kyphosis starts in adolescence and is caused by a “wedging” of the vertebrae, which can contribute to the development of scoliosis.

Congenital kyphosis (found at birth) is caused by the abnormal development of the vertebrae before birth, and can cause the vertebrae to fuse together. Surgery is usually recommended when kyphosis affects an infant, and can help treat the disorder before it worsens.

Causes and Symptoms

Kyphosis can affect people of any age.
Potential causes of kyphosis include:

  • aging
  • muscle weakness in the upper back
  • arthritis or other bone degeneration diseases
  • osteoporosis
  • injury to the spine
  • slipped discs
  • It can be associated with scoliosis (kyphoscoliosis)

If the curve is mild, kyphosis may cause a few problems. More severe kyphosis can be disfiguring. It may cause nerve problems, stiffness, chronic pain and difficulty in breathing. It can even affect how your heart works.

The most common sign of kyphosis is a rounding of the upper back. Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in breathing (in severe cases)
  • Fatigue
  • Mild back pain
  • Round back appearance
  • Tenderness and stiffness in the spine