How To Fix Thoracic Kyphosis: Curved Spine Of The Upper Back

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scheuermann's disease treatment in adults

What is Kyphosis and how to fix thoracic kyphosis is a surprisingly common question. Sometimes called “roundback” or “Kelso’s hunchback”, kyphosis is best described as an abnormal forward bending of the spine, which causes a noticeable difference, not only in posture, but walking gait, as well as causing stiffness and back or neck pain.

This can be a result  of degenerative disease, arthritis, compression fractures in the vertebra, or even simply the result of advancing age. Of the three million or more annually reported cases, most cases affect people from age 14 and onwards.

What Are The Symptoms?

Some of the most common forms of kyphosis are:

  • Postural kyphosis
  • Scheuermann’s kyphosis
  • Congenital kyphosis

The symptoms and pain associated with kyphosis is chronic, lasting from years to a lifetime if a diagnosis and possible treatment are not sought. Kyphosis is best described as hunchback disease.

Is Surgery Needed As Treatment?

When diagnosed, people ask is Scheuermann’s disease a lifelong disability? The answer is, it depends on how greatly you are affected. Sometimes the answer is yes if your quality of life is decreased and you can’t do regular activities.

Surgery May Be Needed

How to fix thoracic kyphosis with surgery? While with  Scheuermann’s and congenital kyphosis, surgery is needed to correct the muscular alignment. Postural kyphosis, which is caused by slouching, both in younger and older people is reversible; requiring  either a posture brace or physical therapy and exercise to correct their posture which eliminates the need for a more invasive procedure, such as spinal surgery, which can lead to more complications in very young or old people.

What Are The Symptoms?


how to fix thoracic kyphosis


Depending on the severity of the curvature of your spine, and location of the kyphosis itself, the negative effects can range from pain while sitting or standing for periods of time, to difficulty walking and weakness.

There may be numbness or tingling in the extremities, or if it’s severe, can impact your breathing and heart functions. For this reason, it is important to visit your doctor and schedule a test if you experience any symptoms.

How Do Doctors Diagnose This Condition?

What is Scheuermann’s disease in adults? Is it hereditary you might be asking? Family history can also play a role in different types of kyphosis, in which case your doctor may check your family history before going over treatment options, as each case is different. Certain treatments may not work, or be as efficient as others in slowing, or even preventing further progression of the kyphosis.

Don’t Self Diagnose…

While kyphosis can sometimes be diagnosed at home, the best way to know for sure is to have medical testing done, either by imaging or lab tests to determine not only if you have it, but also which type you have. These tests can determine the severity of it, as well as the type of treatment best suited to relieve pain, and if possible, slow or prevent further progression of the curvature.

Physical Examination

Typical tests are during physical exams where your height is checked, and have you bend forward at the waist, while your spine is examined on the side. While bending forward, rounding of the upper back is much more noticeable, making a diagnosis easier to make.

curvature of the spine kyphosisImaging Tests

When imaging tests are done, it is either with X-ray, a CT, or an MRI scan. X-ray scans will show the degree of your spine’s curvature.

The scans will detect if there are any deformities in your vertebrae, which will help determine the type of kyphosis.

Computerized Tomography is like an X-ray; except it takes X-rays from various angles, combining them into one cross-section image.

If an infection or tumor is suspected, your doctor may request a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan (MRI), which uses a strong magnet and radio waves, which produces in depth detailed images of soft tissue and your bones.

Other Tests Doctors May Request

For numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness, your doctor may request nerve tests be done to see how well the nerve impulses are being sent between your spinal cord and extremities. The way the spine curves in people affected by kyphosis, can constrict the spinal cord causing these symptoms.

The pressure may even affect breathing and if severe enough, can affect your heart. With the pressure on your spinal cord affecting breathing, it causes more fatigue as well when walking longer distances, and sometimes even simply standing up for too long.

Treating Kyphosis Varies According To Age

If, after medical testing is done, and you do have Scheuermann’s disease in adults, there are various treatment plans. For some types, especially Scheuermann’s kyphosis, your doctor may require you to wear a posture brace. Before they make a decision, they will factor in not only your age, but if your body is still growing. A brace won’t be able to stop progression of the curvature, as well as the likelihood of the curving getting any worse.

For children who are diagnosed with Scheuermann’s kyphosis, if the abnormal curves of the spine are severe, and they haven’t yet hit their adolescent growth spurt, then the curvature is very likely to become much worse as they do grow. Using a posture brace can not only help with controlling pain, but in some cases slow, or even stop, the progression of the curve. The posture correction and support could also help avoid surgery later.

Can You Fix A Hunchback: Treatment Options

Based on the progression, and type of kyphosis, your doctor will choose a brace from the many types available, and have it custom-fitted so that it is more comfortable for you to wear.

1) Brace Treatment

Can you fix a hunchback with a posture correcting brace? The answer depends on the severity of kyphosis. Some types of brace treatment requires having the corrective brace worn for extended times, even having to wear it all day long.

While feeling uncomfortable at first, your doctor will offer advice on how to best cope with the new adjustment, and make it as comfortable as possible to wear. The doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist or osteopath for specific exercises to correct thoracic kyphosis.

2) How To Fix Thoracic Kyphosis With Spinal Surgery

However, if it’s decided spinal surgery is required; due to either further progression of curvature, or symptoms regardless of other treatment, your doctor will discuss the risks of the procedure. They will let you know how it will improve your posture, and in return, your quality of life.

Spinal surgery relieves the pressure while realigning the spine in a more natural orientation. This is done by using rods and screws placed next to the spine, correcting and stabilizing the spine, while it fuses itself together in the new position.

What To Do If You Think You Have Kyphosis?

While it can be the result of family history, poor posture, nutrient deficiency, a traumatic accident or even simply age, there are almost as many treatments available as there are types of kyphosis. If you are experiencing any symptoms listed above, or even have concerns regarding the possibility of being affected by it, you should definitely talk to your doctor.

They schedule an appointment to test you with either nerve tests to check how well impulses are being sent from your spinal cord to your arms, legs, and rest of your body. They might also schedule either an X-ray, CT scan, or an MRI to determine not only if you have kyphosis, but the type, and severity you have.

Finding A way Forward In How To Fix Thoracic Kyphosis Can Take Time…

These different tests can determine if the kyphosis is caused by a tumor, or any deformities in your spine that could be contributing or exacerbating symptoms. Depending on the type you have, your doctor will outline various types of treatment, from different types of exercise to certain types of posture braces.

Or if necessary, discuss options for spinal surgery. If spinal surgery is chosen, all risks will be discussed far in advance, as well as the procedure itself, and how it is done.

While surgery appears to help most patients, it is generally the last choice, due to the potential complications during, and after surgery. For this reason, exercise and braces are typically the first choice as they are non-invasive, and may be the best choice for certain types and stages of progression.

While a brace may be uncomfortable at first for kids, causing them to resist wearing them due to restricting movement, or the worry of standing out among peers, the long term benefits far outweigh the initial problems. Avoiding expensive, invasive and complicated spinal surgery is preferable.

Depending on the severity of the abnormal curves of the spine, and your age, as well as if your body will be growing any further, your doctor may be able to offer multiple options to best suit your personal needs. Muscle correcting exercises to correct thoracic kyphosis can be helpful in strengthening  back muscles.

If your “how fix thoracic kyphosis” treatment plan is followed properly, then in time, your spine will slowly realign, relieving you of pain, and improving your posture, while also helping you to feel happier.

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