Can Kyphosis (Hunchback) Be Treated?

Kyphosis is the technical name for having a hunched back that is not remedied by naturally straightening the back. Of course we all get lazy at times and slouch to the point it appears we are hunchbacked; however, kyphosis is a condition in which an individual has an exaggerated thoracic curve and rounded shoulders. This is a condition that is on the increase.

There are causes to this condition with the two most common causes being poor posture and muscular imbalances. When caused by poor posture this condition is known as postural kyphosis. Kyphosis can affect anyone at any age except newborns.

In addition to poor posture and muscular imbalances other possible causes include:

  • upper back muscle weakness
  • arthritis
  • bone degeneration diseases
  • spine injury
  • slipped discs
  • spinal curvature (scoliosis)
  • aging

Although much less common there are other causes that may lead to kyphosis, these include:

  • tumours
  • infection in the spine
  • Paget’s disease
  • muscular dystrophy
  • birth defects

Many people live with kyphosis and rarely seek out treatment. If any individual with this condition experiences breathing difficulties, pain or fatigue then it is really important to get treatment. Pretty much all of our mobility and flexibility depends on the health of our spine. Seeking treatment to help correct kyphosis is important to help reduce the risk of complications later in life.

Postural kyphosis will more than likely cause further trouble down the road. Even if an individual experiences shallow breathing or slight, occasional pain it is imperative they seek treatment.

Treating kyphosis early by strengthening the back muscles and seeking out chiropractic adjustments will help.

Other Types of Kyphosis:

Congenital kyphosis refers to abnormal development of the spine that is inherited. This means a person is born with a defect, such as the incomplete formation of the spine. This can lead to a severe abnormal kyphosis.

Paralysis can lead to kyphosis. Causes of the paralysis can include spinal muscle atrophy or cerebral palsy. The development of kyphosis in these cases is gradual.

Degenerative kyphosis refers to the wear and tear of the lumbar (lower) spine. Over a period of time the degenerative process can cause the collapse of the intervertebral disc and weakening of the spinal ligaments. Once kyphosis begins to form it gradually gets worse.

Scheuermann's kyphosis occurs in children and the thoracic curve is usually 45 and 75 degrees.

Exercises that Can Help

Here are four exercises that can help you if done on a regular basis:

  • Lay Down Y

This exercise will strengthen the extension muscles in the upper back.

How to do it: Lie face down with your head lifted off the floor. Your lower back needs to be slightly hyper-extended. Stretch your arms straight out in a Y position with your thumbs pointing up. Pull your arms back in an arc until your hands are in a ‘handcuff’ position. Slowly reverse your arms until you’re at the start. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

  • Wall Sliding (wall angels)

This exercise will strengthen the scapular retractors and will provide good shoulder mobility.

How to do it: Stand with your back against a wall but take one small step forward. Hold your arms out in the shape of a W with your hands facing up. Push your hands up toward the wall until they reach a Y position. Return your arms to the W position. Repeat 5 times.

  • T-Spine Rotation

Thoracic spine rotations are essential for increasing mobility in the thoracic spine region (where the kyphosis affects).

How to do it: Get on all fours making sure your arms are at full length and your hands are positioned just in front of your shoulders. Take your right arm and stretch out your arm. Slowly move your arm underneath your body (and slow twist at the waist) until your arm is as far through as possible and you are looking at the palm of your right hand. Slowly reverse. Do 3 of these then repeat with the other arm.

  • Crucifix

Spending too much time in a seated position causes lower and upper back muscles to shorten which leads to poor posture. This stretch helps to undo these shortened muscles.

How to do it: Stand tall with your arms extended straight out to your sides at shoulder height. Turn your wrists so your thumbs face backwards and pull your (straight) arms up over your head. Bend your elbows until your elbow is at a 90 degree angle. Lower your left hand until it touches your shoulder. Take your right hand and place it on the left elbow. Lower your left hand as far as you can go and hold for as long as you can. Slowly release. Repeat 2 times then switch to your other arm. Do this exercise several times a day.

Chiropractic Treatment for Kyphosis

Treatment will depend on a couple of factors such as the severity and the underlying cause. For those in which the cause is poor posture the good news is that aggressive treatments are not required. What may be required includes:

  • physical therapy
  • correction of the spinal joint fixations
  • yoga (to help build strength and range of motion)

If the cause of kyphosis is due to an infection then antibiotics may be required. If tumours are the underlying cause then surgery may be required.

Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over half a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help evaluate you. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-0419 for more information.

December 29, 2015
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