Kyphosis is a spinal irregularity that causes excessive curving and rounding of the back. People suffering from pronounced abnormal spine curvature appear to have extremely poor posture or a “hunchback” effect. Kyphosis can affect anyone, and while the cause of most adolescent cases (Scheuermann’s disease) is generally unknown, adults can develop irregular spine curvature from an injury, degenerative conditions like arthritis, or from an underlying medical condition like muscular dystrophy.
How Do You Know if You’re Suffering From Kyphosis?
Any instance of chronic or severe back pain that does not resolve on its own over time should be brought to the attention of an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible. Persistent back pain can be caused by a number of reasons, and as such it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis for treatment. Some of the general symptoms of kyphosis include:
- Spinal stiffness or tenderness
- Rounded or “hunched” appearance in the back
- Back pain
Severe forms of kyphosis can also lead to difficulty breathing.
Diagnosing “Hunched” Spine Curvature
The first step in obtaining an accurate diagnosis for kyphosis and any spinal condition is by scheduling a comprehensive physical exam. Once an abnormal curve in the spine has been confirmed, a patient will be evaluated for neurological symptoms like weakness, numbness, or paralysis. Because it can be difficult to determine the full extent of curving of the spine from a general physical exam, Dr. Khurana may also order diagnostic imaging tests like x-rays, MRIs, or pulmonary tests in extreme cases where the patient is having difficulty breathing as a result of the abnormal spine curvature.
Treatment Options for Irregular Curving of the Spine
The treatment for kyphosis depends on the source of the condition for each patient. In cases of congenital kyphosis (present at birth), surgery is typically performed early on to correct the deformities.
With pre-adolescents and teenagers suffering from Scheuermann’s disease, a back brace to help support and straighten the spine while the patient is still growing is usually prescribed. In extreme cases where the curving is severe (greater than a 60 degree angle) reconstructive surgery may be performed.
When the abnormal curving and bending of the spine results from an underlying medical condition (like osteoporosis or spine tumors), treatment will begin with the source of the kyphosis.
In some cases, small compression fractures from osteoporosis do not require treatment in the absence of neurological problems and extreme pain. The patient is treated for the osteoporosis to help stabilize and strengthen the bones and prevent further fractures. Spine surgery would usually be reserved for cases where the patient experiences chronic pain or significant spinal deformity as a result. Patients who are suffering from an infection or tumors that result in kyphosis will require treatment that can include surgery and medication.
Additional information can be found at emedicine.medscape.com
If you are suffering from kyphosis, or abnormal spine curvature, contact the Los Angeles Spine Group today to make an appointment at our state of the art facilities. Call 310.574.0400 or book an appointment online today.
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