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Kyphosis, also known as a hunchback, refers to a spinal disorder in which patients have an abnormally curved spine. Kyphosis can occur at any age but most commonly occurs during adolescence. In most cases, Kyphosis does not require surgery or any particular medical intervention, as it rarely leads to severe problems.

To understand Kyphosis better, it is important to be acquainted with the anatomy of the spine. The spine constitutes three segments, namely, the cervical spine, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine. Together, these three segments form a natural curve. This natural curvature of the spine helps provide stability and balance to the body to perform various tasks such as standing, walking, jumping, and sitting. Deformation of these natural curves can lead to problems associated with Kyphosis.

Kyphosis can occur in various types, but three common types occur in kids and adolescents.

  • Postural Kyphosis: This is the most common form of Kyphosis. It is not usually characterized as a severe curve to the spine, resulting from bad posture and slouching. This form of Kyphosis can be treated by practicing better posture and sitting straight. This form of Kyphosis is more common in girls than in boys, and in most cases, does not lead to problems in adult life.
  • Scheuermann’s Kyphosis: This form of Kyphosis is more severe. Here, the different bone vertebrae that constitute the spine bend inwardly at an acute angle instead of the right angle in a healthy adult. This form of Kyphosis is common in teens and can lead to an exaggerated forward curvature of the spine. Scheuermann’s Kyphosis cannot be treated with improving posture and can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort. This form of Kyphosis usually occurs in the thoracic or lumbar spine.
  • Congenital Kyphosis: This form of Kyphosis originates from birth. It occurs when the spinal column is unable to develop properly while the fetus is in the embryo. This can lead to incorrect bone formation and may also lead to the fusion of several vertebrae. Congenital Kyphosis usually worsens with age. This form of Kyphosis is exceptionally severe and requires external intervention to correct.

A physical examination can reveal mild Kyphosis symptoms if the issue is not visually diagnosable. The doctor may ask about one’s medical history and other associated health problems. The doctor will physically press the patients back to check for signs of tenderness and incorrect spinal curves. The doctor may ask the patient to perform the “Adam’s Forward Bend” test to examine the spine’s curvature better and check for signs of deformity. In cases where Kyphosis is severe, it can lead to excessive back pain and the body’s disfiguration. Patients may experience chronic pain, discomfort, and stiffness in the back. The severe deformation of the spine can also lead to difficulty in breathing. These patients may need to practice physical therapy and wear back braces to provide additional support to the back or require surgery in extreme cases.