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A normal spine, when viewed from behind appears straight. However, a spine affected by kyphosis has a forward curvature of the back bones (vertebrae) in the upper back area, giving an abnormally rounded or "humpback" appearance.
Kyphosis is defined as a curvature of the spine measuring 50 degrees or greater on an X-ray. The normal spine can bend from 20 to 45 degrees of curvature in the upper back area. Kyphosis is a type of spinal deformity.
Kyphosis can be congenital (present at birth), or due to acquired conditions that may include the following:
Kyphosis is more common in females than males.
The following are the most common symptoms of kyphosis. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Back pain, pain down the legs, and changes in bowel and bladder habits are not commonly associated with kyphosis. A person experiencing these types of symptoms requires further medical evaluation by a doctor.
The symptoms of kyphosis may resemble other spinal conditions or deformities, or may be a result of an injury or infection. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
The health care provider makes the diagnosis of kyphosis with a complete medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests. For a child, the health care provider will want to have a prenatal and birth history of the child and ask if other family members are known to have kyphosis. The health care provider also will ask about developmental milestones since some types of kyphosis can be associated with other neuromuscular disorders. Developmental delays may require further medical evaluation.
Diagnostic procedures may include the following:
Early detection of kyphosis is important for successful treatment. Doctors, and even some school programs, routinely look for signs that kyphosis may be present.
Specific treatment for kyphosis will be determined by your health care provider based on:
The goal of treatment is to stop the progression of the curve and minimize deformity. Treatment may include:
Possible complications of kyphosis depend on the type of kyphosis your child has. With Scheuermann’s kyphosis, there may be pain with activity or with long periods of sitting or standing.
Kyphosis is a type of spinal deformity. Kyphosis is defined as a curvature of the spine measuring 50 degrees or greater on an X-ray.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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