What Is Kyphosis?

January 11, 2020

a man with Kyphosis
Emmanuel Feranmi

Kyphosis is a medical condition known by many names, the most popular being "hunchback". This condition is when the spine in the upper back has an extreme curvature. Normally, the thoracic region of the spine has a slight curve. The spine curves naturally at the neck, upper back, and lower back. This is mostly to support the weight of the head and to absorb shock. But if one has Kyphosis, the curve is more pronounced than normal. Quite bad right?

One way to know if you have Kyphosis is the presence of a hump on your upper back. If there is a hump-like appearance in your upper back, you are most likely suffering from Kyphosis. In addition to this, people with Kyphosis often appear to be slouching or appear to have noticeably rounded shoulders. The condition can lead to immense pressure on the spine, and this can lead to a lot of pain. That's not all. Kyphosis can also lead to breathing difficulties due to the pressure put on the lungs.

Kyphosis isn't a strange ailment either, as up to 40% of adults suffer from this condition.

So what causes Kyphosis?

Some Of The Causes Of Kyphosis

Kyphosis can affect anyone. However, it mostly affects adults because it is usually as a result of poor posture. Postural Kyphosis is the name given to Kyphosis that comes from poor posture. Some other causes include:

  • compression fractures
  • diseases of the connective tissues
  • degenerative changes
  • slipped discs
  • ageing
  • Scheuermann’s disease
  • birth defects, such as spina bifida
  • tumours
  • Muscle weakness in the upper back
  • altered biomechanics.

Experts believe that just 20 minutes of bad posture can cause negative effects on your spine, thus it is believed that Kyphosis is mostly associated with bad movement patterns and poor posture.

A good example of this is spending long periods in a flexed or bent position. This makes your head begin to retain a forward position, and this can have negative effects on your spine as a whole. The head should be directly over the body and not in a flexed or bent forward position.

However, if you practice proper posture and exercise to strengthen your back and your neck, you may have no problems with Kyphosis.

When Should You Treat Kyphosis?

If you experience pain, breathing difficulties, and fatigue as a result of Kyphosis, you should really consider seeking treatment. Most of our body movement and mechanics depend on our spine, and if that backbone isn't working properly, it can affect us in a lot of ways. Besides, treating Kyphosis early may help you prevent further complications like arthritis from surfacing later in life.

How To Treat Kyphosis

Your treatment of Kyphosis mostly depends on its underlying causes and severity. If, for example, the Kyphosis one is suffering from is as a result of infections, there'll be a certain type of treatment for that. If, on the other hand, it's as a result of poor posture, they'd be another sort of treatment for that.

  • Tumours: Generally, tumours are removed when there's a chance for spinal cord compression. If there is this chance, a surgeon may have to remove the tumour from the spine. However, this is risky as it often destabilizes the bone. In this case, a spinal fusion may be necessary.
  • Scheuermann’s disease: This can be treated through physical therapy, corrective surgery or through the use of braces.
  • Poor Posture: This is the most common cause of Kyphosis and can be treated easily. Posture exercises can help, and you can get tools that ensure that you are avoiding bad posture. For example, if you sit for long hours slouched at a desk, getting a standing desk can help to correct your posture. A desk bike can also help you to keep your head upright when working. Keeping things simple as they ought to be.

There are general treatments that you can use to relieve the symptoms of Kyphosis. Some of these treatments include:

  • Medication: drugs can be useful in relieving pain if it gets unbearable
  • Yoga: This can build strength and make you more flexible.
  • Exercising— if you work long hours at a desk, you should perhaps consider getting a desk bike. Exercising can help you lose excess weight and as such remove excess burden from off the spine. Exercises are also important because strong muscles easily counteract the forward pull of the spine.

Kyphosis In The Work Place

As you might have probably guessed, sitting in one position with your face hung over a computer for long periods isn't great posture. In fact, it can significantly contribute to the likelihood of you having Kyphosis. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can get around this.

The first is to position your computer correctly. Make sure you're not sitting in a position where you have to look down on your computer. It should be exactly at eye level.

The second is to take breaks, or alternatively, switch positions. A standing desk can be really helpful in that regard, as it ensures that you continue working while taking the needed rest for your spine.

This one might be a weird one, but avoid crossing your legs. If your feet are flat on the floor, your body weight will be better supported and you won't be likely to hunch over your desk.

Kyphosis Isn't The End

In most cases, Kyphosis isn't a severe deformity and can be corrected by just changing a few things about your lifestyle. Seeing a physical therapist and strengthening back muscles through exercise can help you treat Kyphosis. Basically, improving your posture and adopting good habits cuts your likelihood of having Kyphosis in half. 

We accept articles, stories, and reviews that feature our products. The topics can also include tips on posture, spine health, and how to create a healthy work-from-home setup. If you are interested to collaborate with us, send an email to elaine@flexispot.com.

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