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Alternative Names Return to topScheuermann's disease; Roundback; Hunchback; Postural kyphosis
Definition Return to top
Kyphosis is a curving of the spine that causes a bowing of the back, which leads to a hunchback or slouching posture.
Causes Return to top
Kyphosis is a spinal deformity. It can be caused by:
Kyphosis can occur at any age, although it is rare at birth.
Adolescent kyphosis, also known as Scheuermann's disease, is caused by the wedging together of several bones of the spine (vertebrae) in a row. The cause of Scheuermann's disease is unknown.
In adults, kyphosis can be a result of:
Other causes of kyphosis include:
Kyphosis can also be seen with scoliosis. Each cause has its own risk factors.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Physical examination by a health care provider confirms the abnormal curve of the spine. The doctor will also look for any nervous system (neurological) changes (weakness, paralysis, or changes in sensation) below the curve.
Other tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder:
Treatment for other types of kyphosis depends on the cause. Surgery may be necessary if neurological symptoms develop.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Adolescents with Scheuermann's disease tend do well even if they need surgery, and the disease stops once they stop growing. If the kyphosis is due to degenerative joint disease or multiple compression fractures, surgery is needed to correct the defect and improve pain.
Possible Complications Return to top
Prevention Return to top
Treating and preventing osteoporosis can prevent many cases of kyphosis in the elderly. Early diagnosis and bracing of Scheuermann's disease can reduce the need for surgery, but there is no way to prevent the disease.
References Return to top
Shelton YA. Scoliosis and kyphosis in adolescents: diagnosis and management. Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2007;18:121-139.Update Date: 7/17/2008 Updated by: Andrew L Chen, MD, MS, Orthopedist, The Alpine Clinic, Littleton, NH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.