This unnatural curving of the spine is a deformation caused by disease or damage to the vertebrae.
Kyphosis has several causes. Bad posture can loosen the spine's ligaments, causing a curve to develop over time. Disease or physical damage to the bones of the spine can weaken and collapse the vertebrae, allowing the spine to curve. Diseases that are common culprits include
- osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
- Scheuermann's disease (usually seen in teen boys)
- Pott's disease (Tuberculosis related)
- spinal tumors.
In most cases, the only symptom may be the slight appearance of a hump in the upper back. If the kyphosis is severe, the person may have aches in the neck and lower back. Only a physician using x-rays can make an accurate diagnosis.
Most people with kyphosis don't need treatment. Risks can be limited by increasing calcium intake and performing weight-baring exercise to strengthen bones. If intervention is needed, an orthopedic brace may prevent further curvature in growing children. In very few cases, spinal fusion surgery may straighten and stabilize the spine.
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