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Understanding Kyphosis

31 July 2023

Everyone has a certain curvature of the spine. However, too much curvature can cause problems with everyday life. If the curvature of the spine is not correct, a person can experience pain and even have difficulty breathing, depending on the severity of the curvature.

Kyphosis at a Glance

Kyphosis is a spinal deformity in which the spine has an excessive outward curvature. The severity of kyphosis can range from mild, which might not even be noticed by looking at someone's spine, to severe, which can cause physical discomfort and impair movement. Kyphosis is sometimes referred to as hunchback or round back.

Kyphosis usually occurs in the thoracic spine, between your neck and lower back. It may also affect your cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine (lower back). The condition may develop naturally over time or result from an injury or illness like osteoporosis or Scheuermann's disease.

Symptoms of Kyphosis

The most noticeable symptom of kyphosis is an exaggerated upper back rounding. Other signs and symptoms may include:

Neck Pain

People with kyphosis often experience pain in the neck due to the unnatural curvature of their spine. This can be felt as a dull ache, throbbing, or severe burning pain, worse when the neck is bent forward or backward. This is because kyphosis can put pressure on the nerves in the neck, leading to pain and stiffness. Additionally, it can cause muscles around the shoulder blades to become strained, resulting in tenderness and pain when you move your arms.

Stiffness in the Spine

Kyphosis can make it difficult for an individual to move their spine due to its unnatural curvature. This may cause stiffness and limited range of motion when bending or twisting, which can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily activities like standing up straight or lifting something heavy. In more severe cases of kyphosis, a painful rib hump may form at the top of the curve in the thoracic spine due to a buildup of vertebrae.


As kyphosis puts an excess strain on the entire body, people with this condition might find themselves experiencing feelings of fatigue and tiredness even after engaging in light physical activity such as walking or running. Furthermore, discomfort caused by their unnatural spinal curvature may make getting a restful night's sleep difficult, further exacerbating feelings of exhaustion during daytime hours.

Poor Posture

Kyphosis can also affect posture due to the abnormal position of the spine. They may be seen standing or sitting improperly as a result, which can lead to back pain and muscle strain over time if not corrected through stretching exercises and professional care. Even if someone can sit up straight momentarily, they'll eventually slump back into their poor posture unconsciously due to neck and back strain caused by kyphosis.

Difficulty Breathing

The abnormal curvature of the spine associated with kyphosis can cause difficulty breathing as it limits lung capacity by putting extra pressure on the rib cage when inhaling deeply and fully expanding the chest cavity while exhaling fully. Over time this could result in shortness of breath after exertion or even just while attempting simple activities like walking upstairs or carrying groceries from your car.

Painful Rib Hump

In more severe cases of kyphosis, a painful rib hump may form at the top of the curve in the thoracic spine due to a buildup of vertebrae. This hump can be extremely uncomfortable as it puts extra strain on the spine, ribs, and surrounding muscles, leading to pain that may worsen with movement or activity. Additionally, the rib hump may cause other physical symptoms like back spasms, numbness, or tingling in the arms and legs.

Psychological Effects

Having kyphosis may also have psychological effects on an individual since they may feel self-conscious about their appearance due to having an abnormally curved spine that stands out compared to others around them. People with kyphosis need to remember that treatments are available for this condition, so they don't have to live with discomfort forever if diagnosed early enough by seeking medical attention soon after noticing any of the above symptoms.

Causes of Kyphosis

Kyphosis is usually caused by a structural issue in the spine, such as an abnormality in its shape or curvature. It can also be caused by conditions like the following.

Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries, such as fractures or dislocations, can cause an abnormal curve in the spine. These injuries may be caused by a fall or other kind of accident that puts direct force on the vertebrae.

Birth Defects

In some cases, kyphosis is caused by birth defects. These can affect the spine's normal development and lead to excessive curvature over time.


Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak bones due to calcium deficiency, which makes them more susceptible to fractures. When this occurs in the spine, it can lead to kyphosis.

Scheuermann's Disease

Scheuermann's disease is a condition that causes a person's vertebrae to be abnormally shaped and can lead to kyphosis. It usually affects adolescents, but it can also develop in adults.

Inflammatory Diseases

Some inflammatory diseases, such as ankylosing spondylitis, can cause the spine to stiffen over time. This can lead to an abnormal curvature of the spine and kyphosis.

Muscle Weakness

Neurological conditions like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy can cause muscle weakness, which can affect the development of the spine and lead to kyphosis over time.

Tumors on The Spine

In some cases, tumors on or near the spine can cause them to become curved abnormally as they grow. This is more common in children than adults.

Improper Posture During Early Age

Poor posture during childhood or adolescence can put extra strain on the spine and result in kyphosis when a person reaches adulthood if not corrected soon enough. It's essential to ensure that children and teenagers sit and stand in an upright posture with their shoulders back and heads up.

Treatments for Kyphosis

The treatment for kyphosis depends on the severity of the condition and its underlying cause. Mild cases may not require any treatment, but more severe cases could require physical therapy or even surgery to help reduce pain and improve mobility.

Physical Therapy

Exercises prescribed by a physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles in the back and neck while promoting flexibility, which can help correct any spine deformities caused by kyphosis and reduce the pain associated with it.


Surgery may be necessary to correct an abnormally curved spine in some cases if physical therapy alone is ineffective. The type of surgical procedure performed will depend on the severity of the curve and its underlying cause. Speaking to a doctor about all possible treatment options is important before deciding which one is best for you.


In some cases, wearing a brace may help reduce the appearance of kyphosis and provide relief from pain. It's important to speak to a medical professional about whether or not this is an appropriate course of action and what type of brace would be best for your particular condition.

Kyphosis can be managed with proper diagnosis and treatment so that individuals don't have to live in discomfort forever. Early diagnosis can go a long way in preventing any further complications due to this condition, so it's important to seek medical attention as soon as any symptoms are noticed to get on the right track toward recovery.

Living with Kyphosis

Living with kyphosis can be difficult, but there are ways to manage the condition and make it easier. For example, many people find that gentle stretching exercises help to reduce pain and improve mobility. Additionally, maintaining good posture is essential for limiting the progression of kyphosis and avoiding further complications. Wearing a brace may also provide some relief from discomfort or prevent any further curvature of the spine. Finally, speaking to a medical professional about treatments such as physical therapy or surgery is important to determine which will be most effective for your particular condition.

Kyphosis can have a major impact on a person's life if left untreated, but with proper diagnosis and management, it is possible to live comfortably with the condition.

FlexiSpot Standing Office Chair (C5)

If you are living with kyphosis, you must always pay attention to your posture. To make this easier, you may invest in an ergonomic office chair like the Standard Office Chair (C5). This chair has been designed specifically for those with backbone issues and provides optimal support for the spine while promoting good posture.

The Standard Office Chair (C5)is perfect for those who want to improve their posture and alleviate back pain. This chair is designed to support the natural curve of your spine. It has a contoured seat and backrest, adjustable lumbar support over a range of 3.14 inches, and an adjustable seat. This chair also has a built-in adjustable headrest that can move in a range of 2.36 inches, so you can avoid neck pain.

Final Thoughts

Kyphosis can be debilitating, but it doesn't have to control your life. Many treatment options are available, from physical therapy and surgery to braces and ergonomic office chairs. It's essential to speak to a doctor about the best course of treatment for you and follow their instructions closely to get on the road to recovery. With proper care, kyphosis can be managed, and you can live a relatively normal life.