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Kyphosis, also known as roundback or hunchback, is a condition in which the spine in the upper back has an excessive curvature. The upper back, or thoracic region of the spine, is supposed to have a slight natural curve. The spine naturally curves in the neck, upper back, and lower back to help absorb shock and support the weight of the head. Kyphosis occurs when this natural arch is larger than normal.
If you have kyphosis, you may have a visible hump on your upper back. From the side, your upper back may be noticeably rounded or protruding. In addition, people with hunchback appear to be slouching and have noticeable rounding of the shoulders. Kyphosis can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain. It may also cause breathing difficulties due to pressure put on the lungs.
Kyphosis in elderly women is known as dowager’s hump.
Kyphosis can affect people of any age. It rarely occurs in newborns because it’s usually caused by poor posture. Kyphosis caused by poor posture is called postural kyphosis.
Other potential causes of kyphosis include:
The following conditions less commonly lead to kyphosis:
You should seek treatment if your kyphosis is accompanied by:
Much of our bodily movement depends on the health of the spine, including our:
Getting treatment to help correct the curvature of your spine may help you reduce the risk of complications later in life, including arthritis and back pain.
Treatment for kyphosis will depend on its severity and underlying cause. Here are some of the more common causes and treatments:
The following treatments may help relieve the symptoms of kyphosis:
For most people, kyphosis does not cause serious health problems. This is dependent on the cause of the kyphosis. If kyphosis is caused by poor posture, you may suffer from pain and breathing difficulties. These will only get worse later in life.
You can treat kyphosis early by:
Your goal will be to improve your posture long-term to decrease pain and other symptoms.
Written by: Amber Erickson Gabbey
Medically reviewed on: Oct 26, 2016: Timothy Schmidt, MD
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