Kyphosis: Information & Kyphosis specialists

Leading Medicine Guide Editors
Leading Medicine Guide Editors

The medical term kyphosis comes from the Greek language and means humpback. Kyphosis refers to an excessive curvature of the spine directed backwards in the thoracic region. The hump is also known as a rounded back, gibbus and hyperkyphosis.

Here you will find further information and selected kyphosis specialists and centres.

ICD codes for this diseases: M40

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Brief overview:

  • What is kyphosis? Excessive curvature of the spine backwards in the thoracic region. In common parlance, this is called a hump.
  • Symptoms: Chronic back/neck pain, difficult breathing, bleeding, heart disease, sleep disorders, numbness, leg paralysis and more. Often the patient also suffers from scoliosis or herniated discs.
  • Causes: Kyphosis can be congenital or can occur during life mainly due to careless posture, degenerative diseases, accidental injuries and spinal tumours.
  • Treatment: In mild cases, conservative measures, especially sports and correct posture, are sufficient. Otherwise, however, surgery is indicated. Here spondylodesis or kyphoplasty are possible.
  • Exercises: Physiotherapy can correct kyphosis well. The exercises strengthen the back muscles. Physical therapy and breathing exercises also help the patient with techniques to straighten and relieve pressure on the spine.

Article overview

What is kyphosis?

Every person has a slight natural curvature of the thoracic spine backwards.

One speaks of a kyphosis of the lumbar spine when the spinal column is excessively curved in the lumbar region. Excessive kyphosis can be clearly seen with the naked eye in upright people.

Vergleich einer gesunden Wirbelsäule mit Kyphose
In kyphosis, the spine forms a hump © Matthieu | AdobeStock

Depending on the underlying cause, those affected suffer from:

Kyphosis often occurs together with scoliosis. The medical profession understands this to mean a laterally curved and often additionally twisted and stiffened spine.

As the hump is clearly visible, it can be easily diagnosed by orthopaedic specialists. They then carry out another X-ray examination.

If you also have a spine that is too curved at chest level, you should see an orthopaedist as soon as possible.

How does kyphosis develop?

The hump is caused by vertebral body fractures. In older women, they are usually the result of osteoporosis (porous bones due to calcium deficiency). In addition, degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the joints) can cause thoracic kyphosis (curvature of the thoracic spine).

Another cause is Scheuermann's disease which is common in adolescence: In those affected, the thoracic vertebrae of the front and back grow unevenly. In addition, the disease is often associated with herniated discs.

Other causes of kyphosis:

In some people, kyphosis is already congenital. These babies are born with deformed or fused vertebrae.

In most cases, however, a hump is caused by careless posture. Too little physical exercise leaves the musculature in this region of the body to waste away. It can therefore no longer adequately support the spine.

How do you treat kyphosis?

For milder cases, monitoring carried out at regular intervals is sufficient. Patients perform exercises to strengthen the back muscles and train correct posture.

Regular exercise (walking, jogging) also helps to improve poor posture.

However, if the person suffers from

  • difficulty in breathing,
  • disturbed digestion,
  • cardiovascular problems,
  • severe pain or
  • neurological disorders,

surgery is required: The spondylodesis restores the natural degree of spinal curvature through vertebral body stiffening. For this purpose, the affected vertebral bodies are fixed with screws (implants).

Kyphoplasty is performed in patients with vertebral fractures. It straightens the unstable spine in the chest area with the help of bone cement. This relieves the pain of the patients.

The thoracic kyphosis can also be corrected well with an orthosis (corset). The orthopaedist has it individually adjusted according to the severity of the malposition. Nowadays, the corsets are designed on the computer with the help of modern software and also help with lordosis problems.

Exercises for kyphosis

Mild cases of hyperkyphosis can be corrected well with regular physiotherapy treatment. The exercises train the back and chest muscles and thus restore the natural curvature of the spine.

Especially patients with

  • Scheuermann's disease,
  • Scoliosis and
  • a lordosis-kyphosis

can be treated efficiently in this way.

Physical therapy includes

  • Techniques for straightening the spine,
  • Movement exercises for everyday life and
  • Techniques that help the patient increase their breathing volume.

The breathing techniques specially developed for patients with scoliosis and hyperkyphosis relax and relieve the overstrained back muscles even more.

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