Kyphosis is an abnormal curvature of the upper spine (typically referred to as “humpback”), which can be congenital (present at birth), related to the degeneration of bone tissue known as osteoporosis, or degenerative, which is related to arthritis and degeneration due to wear and tear.
In children, kyphosis is either congenital (as stated above), or caused by neuromuscular disorders like spina bifida and cerebral palsy. It can also be caused by a lack of proper nutrition in childhood.
Finally, kyphosis can result from trauma, poor posture, or as the result of failed surgery.
Scheuermann’s kyphosis is a related condition which causes abnormal growth in the discs and spine occurring in adolescence.
Muscle fatigue and stiffness and back pain are the most common symptoms of kyphosis. This condition doesn’t produce exacerbated symptoms over time but usually remains relatively static in terms of its symptomology.
Kyphosis occurring in the mid-back is markedly more severe, as the curvature can affect pulmonary and cardiac functions. Some cases of kyphosis produce an augmentation of symptoms over time, as the curvature becomes acuter.
Diagnosis and treatment.
A physical examination is the starting point for accurately diagnosing kyphosis. Practitioners will ask patients to bend forward from the waist, making the spinal curvature more clearly discernable. A neurological examination may also be done to determine the quality of muscle strength and general reflexes.
Standard imaging tests may also be employed to arrive at a diagnosis, like X-rays, MRIs and CT scans. In addition, when patients are experiencing numbness and weakness in the extremities, nerve tests may be conducted to gauge nerve impulses.
Treatment depends materially on the nature of the condition and its severity. Drug therapy may be deployed, including painkillers and drugs to combat osteoporosis, if that’s the presenting cause of the patient’s condition.
Conservative therapies may include exercise, physical therapy, bracing and pursuing a healthy lifestyle to control weight. Additionally, bone density may be enhanced with the use of supplements and a nutrition plan to halt the degeneration of bones.
Surgery may be recommended if the curvature is very acute, or if there is nerve impingement. Usually, this is spinal fusion, which corrects the curvature by fusing vertebrae together. Pieces of bone are used and metal rods and screws are implanted to permanently correct the kyphosis curvature.
Key to addressing kyphosis is an accurate diagnosis to ascertain the type of kyphosis in play. Because of the breadth of the condition’s symptomatic manifestations, treatments vary widely.
Spine Care NJ.
The team at Spine Consult NJ is committed to treating all conditions of the spine. We treat each patient as an individual, with personalized care which marries modern techniques with traditional orthopedic practice.
If you suspect you’re suffering from kyphosis, or have been diagnosed by your primary caregiver, we invite you to schedule a consultation.