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Kyphosis is a condition in which the upper back becomes rounded beyond the normal curvature of the spine – typically an exaggerated rounding of more than 50 degrees. Common terms to describe this condition include “round back” or “hunchback,” and it is also sometimes referred to more specifically as Scheuermann’s Kyphosis.

Causes and Risk Factors for Kyphosis

There are a variety of potential causes for this condition, including developmental issues, degenerative conditions such as spinal arthritis, or osteoporosis resulting in compression fractures of the vertebrae. Kyphosis can affect people of all ages, yet there are certain population groups that have been found to be at a higher risk. These include:

  • Boys between the ages of 10 and 15
  • Adolescent girls with poor posture
  • Individuals with connective tissue disorders
  • Older adults suffering from osteoporosis, who are at a greater risk for spinal fractures that can cause this condition


Individuals with this condition may not display any problems with their spine, or they might develop a hump. If the kyphosis is mild, it may not cause major problems. However, the symptoms can occasionally be severe and affect the nerves, lungs, and other organs and tissues in the body, resulting in pain and other issues. These can include:

  • Back pain
  • Hunchback or a slouching posture
  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness and tenderness in the spine
  • And others

Since it is possible to develop kyphosis without displaying any symptoms, it is often detected only as part of a routine medical examination. However, be sure to see your doctor – or take your child to the doctor – right away if any of these symptoms develop.

Treatment Options

If you or your child is dealing with kyphosis, there are a variety of potential treatments available. Depending on the cause of the disorder and the severity of the symptoms it is causing, treatments can vary. For mild cases, less aggressive treatments can include exercises to strengthen back muscles, choosing a firmer mattress, pain and/or anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and more. For more severe cases, bracing is a common treatment, followed by surgery as a last resort to correct and prevent further deformity. Be sure to speak to your doctor to diagnose your symptoms, as well as discuss treatment options if kyphosis is discovered to be the cause of you or your child’s symptoms.

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