Kyphosis: What is it? - Part 1
Some Curves are Good
It is normal for the spine to curve from front to back. Everyone has some natural rounding of their upper back as well as arching or indentation of their lower back, but kyphosis results if the spine curves too much. People with kyphosis appear to have a hump on their back. Sometimes their heads look like they are pitched forward as though resting on their chests.
The upper part of the back near the shoulders is called the thoracic (thor-ah-sick) area of the spine. Kyphosis causes the natural curve in the thoracic spine to curve too far forward. Most often kyphosis affects the thoracic spine, but sometimes kyphosis develops in the neck. The neck area is called the cervical (sir-vick-all) spine. It may also develop in the lower part of the spine called the lumbar (lum-bar) region.
Two Kinds of Kyphosis
Kyphosis can affect babies, children, teenagers, and adults. There are two different kinds of kyphosis. The first type is caused by bad posture and can be corrected by the patient. The second type is caused by a structural disorder, which the patient cannot fix without medical treatment.
The structures of the spine include bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscles. Sometimes things go wrong in the spine. For example, people can develop arthritis (are-th-rye-tis), a tumor in the spine, or be in an accident. These types of problems can affect the structures in the spine resulting in kyphosis which continues to worsen during the growth period.
Some people are born with the second kind of kyphosis. When someone is born with a problem the doctor calls it congenital (con-gen-it-all). Congenital kyphosis is always caused by either missing or incompletely formed parts of the spine. If present throughout the growth period, kyphosis often becomes severe and may compress the spinal nerves.
A type of kyphosis that happens to children is called Scheuermann's Disease (shoe-er-man-z disease). It is a structural disorder. Doctors do not know why some children develop this disease. They think it might run in families, but they are not sure.
This type of kyphosis develops in the thoracic (thor-ah-sick) spine. Doctors have found that some children begin to develop this type of kyphosis between 12 and 15 years of age. It affects girls more than boys.
This is what happens. Some of the spine's bones, called vertebrae (ver-tea-bray) lose their normal shape. They begin to look like wedges of pie. This causes other vertebrae to create a forward curve in the spine. This disease can cause back pain.
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