Kyphosis is a rounding or curve to the spine. A certain degree of normal curve is seen in the spine. This article refers to an abnormally rounded back. The abnormal kyphosis is in the thoracic spine (along ribs). The three main types of kyphosis are:

  • Postural kyphosis—the most common abnormal type and is caused by bad posture
  • Congenital kyphosis—a type that babies are born with
  • Scheuermann’s kyphosis—a type that runs in families and appears during the teenage years

The sooner kyphosis is treated, the better the outcome. If you think you may have this condition, contact your doctor.

Kyphosis Posture

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Kyphosis can start at any age. It can have various causes, including:


Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of kyphosis. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Marfan syndrome or other tissue disease
  • Condition that weakens bones, like osteoporosis
  • Age
    • Adolescence for postural or Scheuermann’s
    • Elderly with osteoporosis and spine fractures
  • Sex
    • Boys for Scheuermann’s kyphosis
    • Girls for postural kyphosis


If you have any of these, do not assume it is due to kyphosis. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • Excess curve or hump in the back
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue in back and legs
  • Stiffness in back
  • Breathing difficulty may occur in some cases


Most cases can be diagnosed during a physical exam. Some cases are found at school during a scoliosis check. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done to look for abnormal curve in the spine, rounded shoulders, and a hump on the back. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in spine problems.

Tests may include the following:

  • X-ray of the spine—test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
  • Pulmonary function tests—measure how well you are able to breath; some severe cases of kyphosis can impair breathing


Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to learn specific exercises. This may include strength work, stretching, and overall conditioning. You may also be taught how to maintain a correct posture. You may be instructed to sleep on a firm mattress.


Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given for pain or discomfort. Medicine may be given to treat any underlying conditions, like osteoporosis.

Back Brace

Braces are sometimes used. They can help correct kyphosis or reduce discomfort.


Surgery is reserved for severe cases. In this case the spine is straightened by fusing the back bones]]> (vertebrae) together. Surgeons may use bone from the pelvis to fuse the back bones. A metal rod may also be inserted into the spine to help straighten it.

Kyphosis is also sometimes treated with special cement. The cement is injected into the back bones affected.


To help reduce your chance of getting kyphosis, take the following steps:

  • Seek treatment for any bone diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis.
  • Pay attention to your posture and avoid slouching.