Kyphosis or abnormal outward spine curvature can affect your ability to perform daily tasks, cause chronic and severe pain, and leave you self-conscious. Coast Spine and Sports Medicine offers comprehensive kyphosis treatment in Orange County and Los Angeles to address your pain and even restore a more normal spinal alignment.
What Is Kyphosis?
Kyphosis is a very common disorder of the spine that causes an outward spinal curve that results in a rounded back. This condition is sometimes called a roundback or hunchback. It can also be called hyperkyphosis as “kyphosis” is the technical term for the normal outward curve of the upper back.
In addition to a rounded back or hunched forward appearance, kyphosis can also cause back pain that can be severe, loss of height, and trouble standing straight.
Kyphosis usually develops in the thoracic spine or upper back. While thoracic kyphosis is most common, cervical kyphosis of the neck and lumbar kyphosis of the lower can also occur.
What Causes Kyphosis?
Kyphosis can be the result of many conditions. In children, kyphosis can be caused by a developmental issue like Scheuermann’s disease, a neuromuscular condition like spina bifida or cerebral palsy, or a congenital deformity.
In adults, kyphosis can be caused by:
- Osteoporosis, the most common cause and the reason why elderly women have a high rate of kyphosis
- Vertebral degeneration
- Degenerative disc disease, especially in the case of cervical kyphosis
How Is Thoracic Kyphosis Treated in Los Angeles?
Treatment for kyphosis depends on the severity and cause of the disorder. Non-surgical treatments are typically advised first and may include physical therapy, pain medication, and a kyphosis brace. A kyphosis brace is generally not effective for adults, but can be used to help straighten the spine and prevent the condition from progressing in patients who are still growing. The most common types of braces used are Boston braces and TLSO braces.
Surgery is usually not necessary, although it may be required when the curve exceeds 80 to 90 degrees; when the kyphosis extends into the lower back; when the kyphosis compresses nerves or the spinal cord, or when it causes disabling pain.
Spinal reconstructive surgery can take many forms depending on the severity of the curve and any co-existing conditions. Spinal decompression is typically used to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. This may involve:
- Laminectomy, which involves removing part or all of the lamina of the affected vertebrae,
- Foraminotomy, which involves enlarging the foramen, the opening through which nerves travel away from the spinal canal, or
- Discetomy, which involves removing part or all of a disc that is compressing a nerve.
Surgery also aims to restore the normal curvature of the spine as much as possible. Metal hardware is used to correct the alignment. This may be combined with a spinal fusion, which stabilizes the spine by fusing two or more vertebrae together into a single piece of bone.
How Is Cervical Kyphosis Treated?
Unlike thoracic kyphosis, cervical kyphosis is usually treated with surgery, as conservative treatments are unlikely to correct the abnormal curve. Early intervention is important to prevent progression and achieve the best results. Surgery usually involves a spinal fusion procedure and segmental instrumentation, or metal hardware the holds the cervical spine in the correct position.
Kyphosis isn’t just painful; it can be debilitating and lead to reduced quality of life and difficulty performing daily tasks. If you or your child is suffering from cervical or thoracic kyphosis, call us today to schedule your appointment. Coast Spine and Sports Medicine serves patients in Los Angeles and Orange County with a range of effective treatment solutions.