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Kyphosis is a spinal deformity in which curving of the spine causes a bowing of the back. It leads to a hunchback or slouching posture. Kyphosis can occur at any age, although it is rare at birth. Adolescent kyphosis is also known as Scheuermann's disease. It is caused by the wedging together of several bones of the spine (vertebrae) in a row. The cause of Scheuermann's disease is unknown. It is also known as Postural kyphosis

Alternative Names of Kyphosis are : Roundback, Hunchback, Postural kyphosis

Complications of Kyphosis

  • Decreased lung capacity
  • Disabling back pain
  • Neurological symptoms including leg weakness or paralysis
  • Round back deformity

Causes of Kyphosis

Kyphosis can be caused by:

  • Degenerative disease such as arthritis.
  • Developmental problems
  • Trauma
  • Fractures caused by osteoporosis (osteoporotic compression fractures)
  • Slipping of one vertebra forward on another (spondylolisthesis)
  • Certain endocrine diseases
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Disk degeneration
  • Infection (such as tuberculosis)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Paget's disease
  • Polio
  • Spina bifida
  • Tumors
  • Kyphosis can also be seen with scoliosis

Signs & Symptoms of Kyphosis

  • Fatigue
  • Mild back pain
  • Round back appearance
  • Tenderness and stiffness in the spine.
  • In severe cases there is problem in breathing.

Diagnosis of Kyphosis

  • Physical examination confirms the abnormal curve of the spine.
  • Examination of the nervous system (neurological) below the curve to find any weakness, paralysis, or changes in sensation.
  • Spine x-ray
  • Pulmonary function tests (if kyphosis affects breathing)
  • MRI (if there may be a tumor, infection, or neurological symptoms)

Treatments of Kyphosis

Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder:

  • Congenital kyphosis requires corrective surgery at an early age.
  • Scheuermann's disease is treated with a brace and physical therapy. Occasionally surgery is needed for large (greater than 60 degrees), painful curves.
  • Multiple compression fractures from osteoporosis can be left alone if there are no nervous system problems or pain. However, the osteoporosis needs to be treated to help prevent future fractures. For debilitating deformity or pain, surgery is an option.
  • Kyphosis caused by infection or tumor needs to be treated more aggressively, often with surgery and medications.
  • Treatment for other types of kyphosis depends on the cause.
  • Surgery may be necessary if neurological symptoms develop.

Prevention of Kyphosis

  • Treating and preventing osteoporosis can prevent many cases of kyphosis in the elderly.
  • Early diagnosis and bracing of Scheuermann's disease can reduce the need for surgery, but there is no way to prevent the disease.

When to seek Medical Advice
Whenever the symptoms of this condition appear or the symptoms become aggravated.

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