Spine Curvature: What You Need to Know About Kyphosis

Commonly called a hunchback, kyphosis is an excessively curved spine. While the spine has natural curves, people with kyphosis have an overly curved upper back that causes them to appear hunched.

Mild kyphosis may not cause health problems, but severe kyphosis can lead to chronic stiffness and back pain. More than anything, kyphosis indicates that your spine needs support to prevent further problems and protect your health.

If you have spinal issues such as chronic stiffness, visiting an orthopedic specialist is the best place to start. Orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones, MD, and our team at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas offer innovative treatments using a patient-centered approach to find effective solutions for acute and chronic spinal conditions. 

What is kyphosis?

Your spine is divided into three main sections, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar, along with the base of the spine (sacrum), and the very tip of the spine (coccyx). The spine has a normal “S” shape, which allows for even weight distribution and flexibility. 

With kyphosis, the curve in the middle (thoracic) section of the spine where your chest is more dramatic than normal, causing the back to appear round and the head to jut forward creating a hunched effect.

Age and a history of poor posture are some of the most common causes of kyphosis, but it can also develop as a result of a spinal injury or abnormal spinal development that you were born with.

Some degree of curvature of the thoracic spine is normal. If you notice that your spine seems excessively curved though, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with an orthopedic specialist to check you for kyphosis

How does kyphosis affect me?

Some people with kyphosis have no symptoms other than a hunched appearance. However, even in the absence of symptoms, kyphosis creates a misalignment that places added stress on the spine.

People who do have symptoms may experience:

Whether or not you have symptoms, it’s important to get checked out by an orthopedic specialist to assess your spinal health and rule out more serious conditions. 

Treating kyphosis

If you have kyphosis, treatment will depend on the degree of the curvature of your spine, as well as other factors such as your age and medical history. Dr. Jones performs a physical examination to assess your spine and may order imaging tests. He may also look for other conditions that can contribute to spinal changes. 

Based on the results of your evaluation, Dr. Jones may recommend nonsurgical treatment such as physical therapy, a back brace, pain medication, or medication to strengthen your bones. If conservative treatment fails or you have severe kyphosis, Dr. Jones may discuss surgical options. 

Dr. Jones is a highly skilled orthopedic surgeon, and when surgery is needed, spinal fusion is the most common surgical treatment for kyphosis. This procedure corrects problems with excessive curvature by connecting two or more vertebrae of the spine. 

You’re in good hands when you choose the Spine Institute of Southeast Texas. For kyphosis diagnosis and treatment, and for all of your spinal needs, schedule a visit with Dr. Jones. We have offices in Pearland, Houston, and Lake Jackson, Texas. Call the office closest to you, or book your appointment here on the website.

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