Kyphosis / Hunchback

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Kyphosis is a forward rounding of your upper back. While kyphosis can occur at any age, it's most common in older women where the deformity is known as a dowager's hump or hunchback.

 

The individual bones that make up a healthy spine look like squares stacked in a column. Kyphosis occurs when the bones in the upper back become more wedge-shaped. This deformity can be caused by a variety of problems, including:

  • Osteoporosis. This bone-thinning disorder can result in crushed vertebrae.
  • Disk degeneration. Soft circular disks act as cushions between spinal vertebrae. With age, these disks dry out and shrink, which often worsens kyphosis.
  • Cancer and cancer treatments. Cancer in the spine can weaken vertebrae and make them more prone to compression fractures
  • Scheuermann's disease. The kyphosis associated with Scheuermann's disease, a hereditary disorder, typically begins during the growth spurt that occurs before puberty.
  • Birth defects. In rare cases, a baby's spinal column doesn't develop properly in the womb, which can result in kyphosis.

Symptoms:

In addition to an abnormally curved spine, kyphosis can also cause back pain and stiffness in some people.

Complications:

Kyphosis may cause the following complications:

  • Body image problems. Having a rounded back or from wearing a brace to correct the condition.
  • Back pain. In some cases, the misalignment of the spine can lead to pain, which can become severe and disabling.
  • Breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the curve may cause the rib cage to press against your lungs, inhibiting your ability to breathe.

Treatment:

Kyphosis treatment depends on the cause of the condition and the signs and symptoms that are present.

Your doctor may suggest:

  • Pain relievers. 
  • Osteoporosis drugs. In many people, kyphosis is the first clue that they have osteoporosis. Bone-strengthening drugs may help prevent additional spinal fractures that would cause your kyphosis to worsen.
  • Therapy
  • Exercises. Stretching exercises can improve spinal flexibility.
  • Bracing.

Adolescence is a time when young people are struggling with physical and emotional changes. Having a noticeable spinal deformity or wearing a brace can make this challenging time even more difficult. Make sure your child has caring people to turn to, including supportive family and friends, or even a professional counselor, if necessary.

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