What is Kyphosis?
When viewed from behind a normal spine appears to be straight. Kyphosis is a pronounced kyphotic curve – or hunchback type curve – of the thoracic spine, near the ribs. The normal range of the kyphotic curve is between 20 and 50 degrees. The term “Kyphosis” refers to the curves that are out of the normal range giving a “humpback” appearance.
Kyphosis is more common in females than males. Kyphosis can be present at birth, or congenital. It may also be as a result of one of the following conditions:
- Metabolic issues
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease
- Spina bifida
There are several types of kyphosis:
Hyper-kyphosis: Hyper-kyphosis is characterized by an excessive roundness or hump in the middle of the child’s back.
Scheurermann kyphosis: This type of kyphosis causes the vertebrae to curve forward in the upper back area. Scheuermann’s kyphosis is commonly diagnosed in males.
Congenital kyphosis: When newborns are diagnosed with kyphosis, the bones of their spine are wedge-shaped instead of the normal, round block shape, causing the spine to bend sharply. In some cases, the sharp bend can press on the spinal cord.
Symptoms of kyphosis:
Each child may exhibit symptoms differently. Here are some of the most common symptoms of kyphosis:
- Varying shoulder height or shoulder blade position
- Back pain
- Extreme fatigue
- A child’s head is bent forward compared to the rest of their body
- When bending forward, the height of the upper back appears higher than normal
- Tight hamstring muscles
- Stiffness in the back
Your child’s doctor may recommend the following procedures when diagnosing kyphosis:
X-ray: An X-ray can measure the curve of the spine, and your child’s doctor or radiologist can determine the best course of treatment based on the measurements.
Bone scans: A bone scan can determine any changes in the joints, or detect bone diseases, tumors or any bone pain or inflammation. Bone scans may also be conducted to rule out fractures or infection.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI shows detailed images of the body’s organs and is used to determine any abnormalities associated with the nerves and spinal cord.
Kyphosis treatments offered:
Shriners Hospitals for Children® treatment goals are to stop the progression of the curve and prevent deformity. Specific treatment plans will be based on the child’s unique needs and overall medical condition. Treatments offered include:
Observation: For children with curves measuring less than 60 degrees, observation through examinations is recommended. The progression of your child’s curve depends upon the amount of skeletal growth and eventually slows down and stops after your child reaches puberty.
Bracing: For curves measuring between 60 and 80 degrees, a brace is recommended. The specific brace type and amount of wearing time for your child will be determined by their doctor.
Surgery: When your child’s curve measures 75 degrees or greater, surgery may be recommended to correct the curve and stabilize their spine. A metal rod can be surgically placed in your child’s back and anchors are inserted into each of the vertebrae. The anchors are used to attach the vertebrae to the metal rod.