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Kyphosis FAQs

Mark W. McFarland, DOMark W. McFarland, DO

Doesn’t everyone have curves in their spine? Absolutely.  A normal spine has several shallow alternating curves, which helps it to balance the weight of the head, and evenly distribute the weight of the body in alignment from the shoulders to the hips, knees and feet.

What is Kyphosis? This medical term is commonly used to refer to an increased forward rounding of the upper back.

What is Lordosis? An increased inward curve of the neck or lower back. Both Lordosis and Kyphosis occur mildly in the spine normally.

What causes Kyphosis? Many things can cause Kyphosis, including:

  1. Poor posture
  2. Fractures in the spine
  3. Spinal Disk Degeneration
  4. Osteoporosis
  5. Scheuermann’s Disease
  6. Birth Defects
  7. Other Congenital Conditions, spina bifida, metabolic diseases

What are the symptoms of Kyphosis?

  1. Humped or hunched back appearance
  2. Back pain, though typically not severe
  3. Differences in shoulder and shoulder blade height
  4. The head appears in a forward position compared to the body
  5. Tight hamstrings
  6. In severe cases, breathing restriction, indigestion, and stomach issues

Is there more than one type of Kyphosis? Yes, there are three types of Kyphosis


  1. Caused by poor posture and slouching
  2. More common in girls than boys
  3. Becomes noticeable in adolescence
  4. Can be corrected by standing up straight
  5. Does not cause bone abnormalities


  1. Babies are born with this issue
  2. The spine does not develop correctly in the womb
  3. Progressive worsening as the child ages if not corrected
  4. Surgery is usually performed at a very young age to correct the problem
  5. Child often has other issues as well


  1. Arises during puberty and accompanying  growth spurts
  2. Can’t be corrected by standing straight
  3. Is more common in boys
  4. Usually affects the thoracic, but can affect the lumbar spine
  5. Three or more consecutive spinal disks from a wedge shape, causing a significant curve
  6. Can be quite painful. Activity can increase pain. Sitting or standing may also increase pain.
  7. Causes a sharp, angular curve to the spine

Who gets Kyphosis more frequently – men or women?  women

How is Kyphosis diagnosed?

In my office, I do a thorough physical examination, get a complete medical history and family history, take x-rays and observe the patient.  X-rays are typically the gold standard for revealing kyphosis.

How is Kyphosis treated?

Treatment is usually based on the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.

Conservative Treatment

This will almost always be tried first, except in cases where surgery is the only option.  Physical Therapy, the use of special back braces, and the prescribing of NSAIDs can all go a long way to reducing pain and inflammation, increasing range of motion and easing stiffness.

I can often monitor patients and work carefully with them to avoid surgery for as long as possible.  However, if the curve continues to progress through their disease process and the patient sees increasing dysfunction and pain, surgery may be our only choice.

Surgical Treatment

Spinal Fusion is the surgical treatment of choice for kyphosis.  This allows me to surgically straighten the curved vertebrae and stabilize them with rods and screws so that they will remain in place and eventually the bones will fuse.   After spinal fusion surgery, Physical Therapy is very important to help the patient regain strength and range of motion.

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