21-10-2021

Kyphosis: causes, symptoms, and treatments

Kyphosis is a forward curvature of the spine. In this article, our medical experts in spinal deformity explain what causes kyphosis, what the symptoms are, and how it can be treated. 

Kyphosis is a pathology consisting of a forward curvature of the spine that may be more or less pronounced. It can appear at any age, although it is more frequent in elderly people. In this article, you will learn from our experts in spinal pathology everything you need to know about this condition and the currently available treatments. 

Causes of kyphosis 

Kyphosis has a variety of causes. Here below are some of the most common: 

  • Disc degeneration: over time, the intervertebral discs that act as cushions for the vertebrae deteriorate, which can lead to, or worsen, kyphosis 
  • Vertebral fractures: Breaking the vertebrae, or in the case of compression fractures, crushing the vertebrae, can cause the spine to bend forward 
  • Osteoporosis: this pathology which causes loss of bone mass, can lead to vertebral fractures and curvature of the spine. 
  • Scheuermann disease: Scheuermann kyphosis appears in the growth stage prior to puberty and is characterized by pain and alterations in the spine. 
  • Rheumatic diseases, such as ankylosing spondylitis and other inflammatory diseases 
  • Congenital kyphosis or congenital spinal deformity 
  • Other causes: cancer of the spine or cancer treatments can promote the development of kyphosis. Also, in the case of children, syndromes such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) 

Main symptoms of kyphosis 

Apart from the curvature of the spine, which can be more or less visible, there can be back pain or stiffness. However, this depends on how advanced the kyphosis is, since in its initial stages, it may exist without symptoms. 

In severe cases of kyphosis, there are patients who suffer more serious symptoms such as respiratory distress due to pulmonary pressure, digestive problems such as reflux or difficulty swallowing, and limitations in movement. Regarding the last, the affected person may find it difficult to walk, get up from a chair, or lift their head to look up, among other movements. 

Treatment 

The treatment of kyphosis depends on how far advanced the condition is, and on the age of the patient. In the case of children going through a growth stage, it is possible to slow the evolution of the kyphosis with the use of an orthopedic brace to correct the spine. 

However, in the case of adults, a brace is not effective and it will be necessary to resort to other options. There are conservative options that help improve the patient's well-being and prevent the disease from worsening: 

  • Medication to relieve pain 
  • Medication for osteoporosis, in the case of patients who have this disease. These medications can help prevent fractures that make kyphosis worse 

However, these treatments do not cure the condition; to do that would require surgery. Surgery to correct kyphosis is a complex procedure that requires extensive experience. At Instituto Clavel, we approach this delicate work with a preoperative surgical plan, aided by the EOSedge scanner, which allows us to precisely analyze all the angles and shapes of the kyphosis, and perform a 3D reconstruction of what the result will be once the correcting surgical implant has been placed. 

What’s more, thanks to these imaging tools, we can customize the implant for the patient, an advantage that is not currently available at any other hospital in Spain, and one that significantly improves the results of the surgery. Likewise, we try to use minimally invasive surgical approaches, whenever the condition of the patient and their pathology makes that possible. 

If you would like more information about this surgery, or would like to make an appointment to receive medical advice regarding your specific case, you can contact us here.   

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