Everything You Should Know About Kyphosis or Hunchback Disease

Posted On Sep 09, 2022

Dr. Ajay Kumar S P

Consultant - Spine Care

Manipal Hospitals - Whitefield - Bengaluru

Spine Care Hospital in Whitefield Bangalore

Kyphosis, also known as Hunchback, is a spinal disorder that affects the spinal cord by making a forward rounding of the upper back. Some rounding in the upper back is normal; only if there is an excessive curvature, it can be called Kyphosis. Typically, Kyphosis is common among children or teenagers, however, it can occur at any age. Older people can also get diagnosed with this disease due to weakness in the spinal bone. Age-related Kyphosis is frequently associated with osteoporosis-induced spinal bone fragility, which results in cracking and compression.

Types of Kyphosis

There are three types of Kyphosis that people can get diagnosed with:

  • Postural Kyphosis

This condition doesn't involve any deformity of the spine other than the exaggerated curve in the spine caused by slouching. It affects adolescent girls more often than boys.

  • Scheuermann's Disease

This is a hereditary disorder that typically begins during the pre-puberty age. Boys between 10 and 15 years of age are at a higher risk of developing this condition.

  • Birth Defects

Also known as Congenital Kyphosis, this condition can occur when a baby's spinal column doesn't develop properly in the mother’s womb. It is, however, a rare occasion.

Symptoms of Kyphosis

The first symptom of Kyphosis is undoubtedly the abnormal curvature of the spine. Some people may also experience discomfort and back pain, tight hamstrings, spine stiffness, and fatigue. Over time, back pain can become severe and lead to disability. In severe cases, the rib cage may press against the lungs, causing breathing difficulties. Mild cases of Kyphosis may not show any visible signs or symptoms. Seeking medical attention, if you notice any of the symptoms, is advisable which can prevent further progression of the disease, particularly in growing children. Come visit Manipal Hospitals, the Spine Care Hospital in Bangalore for the treatment of Kyphosis.

Causes of Kyphosis

A healthy spine is made up of individual bones called vertebrae, which resemble squares stacked in a column. With Kyphosis, the vertebrae in the upper back develop a more wedge-like shape. A number of issues can contribute to this deformity, including:

  • Osteoporosis

It is a bone-thinning disorder that can lead to crushed vertebrae (compression fractures). It causes fractures in the bones that are weaker and usually don’t show symptoms.  Mostly, elderly women and people with long-term exposure to high corticosteroid doses, are affected by this condition.

  • Disk degeneration

Soft circular disks serve as insulators (cushions) between spinal vertebrae. These discs dry out and shrink as we age which can worsen the situation for a Kyphosis patient.

  • Cancer and its treatments

Both spinal cancer and cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation can weaken vertebrae and make them vulnerable to compression fractures.

  • Connective tissue disorders

People with connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome, are also prone to developing Kyphosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Physical observation of the spine along with a neurological examination (checking of reflexes and muscle strength) is performed by the doctor initially. Based on the warning signs and symptoms of a patient, the doctor may order several tests such as imaging tests (X-ray, CT scan, MRI), nerve tests, and lung function tests which help identify the type of Kyphosis and its severity. Consult with our Spine Doctor in Bangalore to know which test is required for your diagnosis.

Treatment options for Kyphosis, whether medications or therapy or surgery is needed, are determined by age, symptoms, the cause of the condition, and its consequences.

  • Surgical procedures

Doctors may recommend a surgical procedure only if the spinal curve is severe and affects breathing. Spinal fusion surgery is the most common procedure that is used to permanently connect two or more affected vertebrae. Spinal surgery has a relatively high complication rate. Bleeding, infection, pain, nerve damage, arthritis, and disc degeneration are among the possible complications. If the first surgery fails to solve the issue, a second surgery might be required.

  • Therapy

Regular stretching exercises can increase spine flexibility as well as strengthen muscles and improve body posture.

  • Medications

Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., and osteoporosis drugs to prevent the progression of Kyphosis. 

  • Bracing

Children with Scheuermann's disease may benefit from wearing a body brace to slow the progression of Kyphosis as they grow.

Coping and support from family and friends play a huge part in the recovery of a patient dealing with Kyphosis. Post-surgical rehabilitation programs and counselling sessions are dedicated to helping these patients return to normal lives.

Dr. Ajay Kumar S P

Consultant - Spine Care

Manipal Hospitals, Whitefield, Bangalore

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