Kyphosis is an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back. It can occur at any age but is most common in older women.
Age-related kyphosis is often due to weakness in the spinal bones that causes them to compress or crack. Other types of kyphosis can appear in infants or teens due to malformation of the spine or wedging of the spinal bones over time.
Mild kyphosis causes few problems. Severe kyphosis can cause pain and be disfiguring. Treatment for kyphosis depends on your age, and the cause and effects of the curvature. Mild kyphosis may produce no noticeable signs or symptoms. But some people experience back pain and stiffness in addition to an abnormally curved spine. In addition to causing back pain, kyphosis may cause:
- Breathing problems: Severe kyphosis can put pressure on the lungs.
- Limited physical functions: Kyphosis is associated with weakened back muscles and difficulty doing tasks such as walking and getting out of chairs. The spinal curvature can also make it difficult to gaze upward or drive and can cause pain when you lie down.
- Digestive problems: Severe kyphosis can compress the digestive tract, causing problems such as acid reflux and difficulty with swallowing.
- Body image problems: People with kyphosis, especially adolescents, may develop a poor body image from having a rounded back or from wearing a brace to correct the condition. For older people, poor body image can lead to social isolation.