Kyphosis is the term used to describe a severe downward curvature of the spine, colloquially called a “hunch.” While kyphosis is often seen in elderly women as a result of damage from other conditions like osteoporosis or degenerative disc disease, the condition can occur at any age. Kyphosis may be present from birth due to the abnormal formation of the spine, or it may occur in adolescence due to a habit of regular slouching. It may also occur in adults as a result of other conditions like an endocrine disease, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, polio, neurofibromatosis or infection.

Aside from a visible hunch, kyphosis may also cause symptoms like fatigue, back pain, tenderness/stiffness of the spine, leg weakness or even difficulty breathing. Depending on the severity of a person’s kyphosis, it may be extremely mild and perfectly manageable, or it could be quite significant, painful and embarrassing.

Fortunately for sufferers, the majority of kyphosis cases and related symptoms can be treated with simple, non-surgical options, such as:

  • Bracing, to stop the progression of the curvature
  • Pain medications
  • Regular exercise to strengthen trunk muscles
  • Osteoporosis medications (if necessary)
  • Physical therapy

For more severe cases in which an extreme curvature pinches the spinal cord or otherwise causes serious disability, surgery may be recommended. Surgical treatments are generally similar to those used for scoliosis; commonly, vertebrae are fused together permanently to correct posture and prevent further curvature of the spine.

To prevent kyphosis in old age, you should protect yourself against the onset of osteoporosis in the following ways:

  • Keep a regimen of daily exercise
  • Obtain sufficient vitamin D from sunshine, food or supplements
  • Obtain sufficient calcium from low-fat dairy products, dark leafy greens, and other foods

If you are suffering from pain or disfigurement due to kyphosis and would like to speak to Dr. Neece about your treatment options, please give us a call at our Frisco, TX office.