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The spine has four natural curves looking at it from the side (sagittal profile) but one of these forward curves can become exaggerated and this is known as a kyphosis. It involves excess curvature in a forward direction and can result in a rounded or hunch back appearance. In the adolescent age group, this can be as a result of an underlying developmental condition where some of the vertebrae can be wedged with abnormal adjoining discs and is called Scheuermann’s disease.
Kyphotic deformities can be either classified as postural, due to poor posture, which tends to improve when the patient is laying on their back or front or it is described as structural if this does not correct in those positions.
Structural kyphosis may need medical attention if it is progressive and these curves tend to occur in the thoracic or thoracolumbar spine.
Kyphotic deformities can also be of a congenital nature where the vertebrae has not developed properly or can be associated with neuromuscular conditions as well as osteoporotic fractures.
After a history and appropriate examination, a neurological assessment may be required if there are associated limb symptoms.
Standing x-rays may be requested to further assess the overall sagittal spinal alignment. This allows for accurate assessment of the normal curvatures.
Occasionally brace therapy can be used during a growth period and also in a traumatic fracture treatment period.
Surgery is reserved for curves with neurological symptoms and for curves that have continued to progress. This would be discussed at the clinic appointment.

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