What you need to know
Kyphosis can be defined as an excessive, forward curve of the thoracic spine and vertebrae, typically in the upper back in the thoracic region.
You will commonly find those struggling with Kyphosis in a slumped position. This posture can lead to what is widely known as Forward Head Posture.
In addition, left untreated severe Kyphosis can lead to other health issues like heart conditions and respiratory problems.
But what is Kyphosis, how does it develop, and what are some common causes?
What is Kyphosis?
Kyphosis (meaning ‘bent’), as often found in the Thoracic Spine, is a condition where there is a forward curvature of the spine.
It is also commonly referred to as “humped back.” Thoracic Kyphosis most generally looks like you have a rounded upper/middle back and slumping forward.
This, as an extension, can lead to the commonly associated condition Forward Head Posture and can be a key characteristic in Upper Cross Syndrome.
Kyphosis can develop in people with a range of issues. For some, it develops due to a sedentary and physically inactive lifestyle.
While others, it is due to changes in the structure of the vertebrae – potential erosion or osteoporosis leading to collapse over time.
Why can Kyphosis be an issue?
Kyphosis (curvature of the spine) poses a challenge to the muscles and bones located along the back of the spine and rib cage as they work to straighten the spine.
As mentioned, Kyphosis as we commonly see it is known as Thoracic Kyphosis, a form of curvature of the upper back (Thoracic Spine) which can cause:
- spinal, shoulder, and upper chest muscle problems,
- with slouching the chest and rib cage falling forward there is an increased chance of breathing issues,
- muscle atrophy – this can be characterized by a weak posterior chain.
- pain in the shoulder and upper back, and
- possibly lead to spinal disc degeneration or herniation (slipped disc).
Kyphosis can form at any stage of life yet is often seen among teens into the early twenties and then again as we enter our senior years. It can appear as a simple, non-symptomatic condition that can often be overlooked as an area of concern; however, it can also be the first sign of more serious underlying problems, such as Scheuermann Disease.
For example, if you continually slump forward, the associated Forward Head Posture will progress. Forward Head Posture can often lead to shoulder and neck pain and lack of mobility in the upper back, neck, and shoulder area.
Kyphosis And You
Effects of spinal curvature on our posture are quite common, especially in young children. While most of us can adjust to changes in body types and become more flexible, poor posture and backs that are too curved can have long-term health issues.
Steps to improve your Kyphosis could include:
- Incorporating daily stretches into your fitness routine,
- Engaging in regular strength training,
- Posture awareness strategies,
- Improving your posture with the assistance of a health care provider who understands posture-based issues.
Do not attempt to self-diagnose or attempt treatment without seeing an accredited health professional. Once correctly diagnosed with Kyphosis, an individual will be able to take further steps towards correcting their condition.
Having your spine examined by a health professional can help determine if you’re suffering from Kyphosis. The process can include taking x-rays to see how much forward curvature of your thoracic spine there is or visual assessments within a clinical setting.
There are several different ways that your health professional can recommend treating you, as the focus and intention of treatment may vary. Having options for treating Kyphosis allows you the possibility to focus on your personal goals and treatment outcomes.