Kyphosis (Hunchback)

What is Kyphosis?

Kyphosis is a condition marked by a rounding of your upper back. It is also called round back or hunchback.

How Does it Happen?

There are many different kinds of kyphosis and they have different causes. Some types are congenital, caused by spinal deformity during fetal development. Other kinds occur as children mature and can be due in some part to poor posture. Still other kinds of kyphosis can be caused by osteoporosis, arthritis of the spine, tuberculosis, cerebral palsy, and cancerous tumors.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

In some cases, the symptoms of kyphosis can be very mild and hard to detect. In other cases, they can be more obvious:

  • A hunched back or slouched posture
  • Spinal pain
  • Back stiffness or tenderness
  • General fatigue

How is it Diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your back, which will probably include a forward bend test. He or she will review the movement of your spine as you bend forward from the waist. Your doctor may also perform a pulmonary function test, which checks your breathing, and a neurological function test, which checks for weakness or paralysis near the affected area. In addition, you doctor will probably use x-rays to determine what type of kyphosis is present.

How is it Treated?

For less serious cases of kyphosis, your doctor may suggest exercises to work the affected areas or pain relievers to alleviate discomfort. If a child has kyphosis, wearing a back brace can help.

Surgery may be necessary for more serious cases, such as when the condition continues to worsen or when paralysis has started. Spinal fusion involves fusing vertebrae together using bones from your pelvis. A surgeon may also stabilize the spine with the use of metal rods or screws.

What is the Prognosis?

If kyphosis is caught early, such as when a child is growing, treatment can be quite effective. When surgery is needed, there can be complications and additional surgeries. Each case is different, so talk to your doctor about your options.