Having Back Pain with Hyperkyphosis

Having Back Pain with Hyperkyphosis

Hyperkyphosis, commonly called kyphosis, is a condition of the spine that results from exaggerated curvature that leads to a rounded back. This can cause a patient to hunch forward, giving rise to the term “hunchback.” Patients with kyphosis that has gotten that far can develop a pronounced hump and a bent-over posture.


There are three distinct types of kyphosis, one of which is noticeable at birth or soon after birth. The other two types usually become noticeable during adolescence, when a teenager is growing rapidly. Those three types of kyphosis are congenital (present at birth), postural and Scheuermann’s kyphosis, which is named after the Danish radiologist who first described the condition.

 Treatment for postural kyphosis can include physical therapy to strengthen muscles and regain function of ligaments



The spine has three natural curves to it that allow your torso and head to balance on the pelvis. Two of the curves – the lower back (lumbar) and the neck area (cervical) – are inward curves, called lordosis. The middle curve in the thoracic region of the spine is an outward curve called the kyphosis curve.


The spine is comprised of 24 vertebrae, which can be described as small bones shaped like drinking cups, but with handles that are irregularly shaped. Each cup-shaped section is separated by a spongy disc about a half-inch tall that act as cushions that allow for flexibility. Each of these cup-shaped sections is normally as tall in the front as they are in the rear. However, they can also become wedge-shaped, which would result in exaggerated curvature.


A normal spine has curves that range from 20 to 40 degrees. However, the curves can become exaggerated to the point that it results in compression of the spine or even constriction of the chest cavity. This occurs when the spinal curve is above 50 degrees. At this point, the condition can be mild to more severely painful. It can also cause fatigue, a loss of control and difficulty breathing in extreme cases.


  • Postural kyphosis


This form of kyphosis is more common in teenage girls than boys and is usually the mildest form of kyphosis. It begins with poor posture that gets worse because of an eventual breakdown of ligaments and weakened muscles that help hold a person upright. Because it is mild, there is only a small chance of developing constriction of the chest cavity, which can affect the health of heart and lungs. Treatment for postural kyphosis can include physical therapy to strengthen muscles and regain function of ligaments.


  • Scheuermann’s kyphosis


Scheuermann’s kyphosis is diagnosed with a history taking, a physical exam and by imaging that reveals a wedge-shaped abnormality in three neighboring vertebrae of more than 5 degrees. Treatment for this condition, the cause of which is not fully understood, usually involves physical therapy and rehabilitation along with pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery is usually not required, although it is an option.


  • Congenital kyphosis


Congenital kyphosis is diagnosed at birth or soon after, as it is a condition that develops in the womb. It is the least common form of kyphosis and often is accompanied by heart defects and other health problems. The defects manifest in three or more of the vertebrae fused together. Radical surgery is required to correct congenital kyphosis to stop its progression.



*   A rounded back appearance

*  A noticeable hump on the back

*  Back discomfort or pain

*  Fatigue

*  Difficulty breathing

*  Weakness or loss of sensation in the legs


*  Physical exam and history taking

*  Imaging by X-ray or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging)

Finding Help

Are you experiencing back pain from kyphosis? If so, call the Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center in San Diego at 858-215-5349 for more information or to book an appointment.

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