Kyphosis is a forward rounding of the back. Some rounding is normal, but the term “kyphosis” usually refers to an exaggerated rounding of the back. Kyphosis may affect patients of any age, from birth to older age. In children born with this condition, some of the vertebrae in the spine fail to completely form or segment properly. The condition may be apparent at birth or shortly after (visible or palpable as a bump or knot on the child’s spine), but for some children, it is not diagnosed until they begin walking. In young children, the bones of the spine may also become “wedged” over time, resulting in a forward-leaning spine or “hump.”

Who does kyphosis affect?

Kyphosis also affects adolescents, teens and adults. In young adults, the condition may be acquired through habitual factors such as improper posture. Older patients may acquire it as a result of osteoporosis when the bones of the spine compress or discs degenerate. Kyphosis is typically mild, but in rare cases, it may cause pain, disfigurement or impairment.

How do you treat kyphosis?

Treatment options for most patients are conservative and do not require surgery. A regimen involving some combination of special exercise, physical therapy, bracing and maintenance of a proper diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (to help develop and maintain good bone density) helps most patients. For some patients with significant cases, surgery may be necessary. Spinal fusion is the most common surgery for kyphosis.

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