Kyphosis (cont.)

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What causes abnormal kyphosis? What are the types of kyphosis?

There are three main types of abnormal kyphosis: postural kyphosis, Scheuermann's kyphosis, and congenital kyphosis.

Postural kyphosis is the most common type of kyphosis. This is more common in girls than in boys and is typically first noticed during adolescence. It is caused by poor posture and a weakening of the muscles and ligaments in the back (paraspinous muscles). The vertebrae are typically shaped normally in postural kyphosis. It is often slow to develop and usually does not continue to become progressively worse with time. These patients can have symptoms of pain and muscle fatigue. This type of kyphosis does not lead to a severe curve, and there is little risk of neurologic, cardiac, or pulmonary problems.

Scheuermann's kyphosis also is first noticed during adolescence. This type of kyphosis is the result of a structural deformity of the vertebrae. It is more common to develop scoliosis (kyphoscoliosis) with Scheuermann's kyphosis than with the other types of kyphosis. The diagnosis requires X-rays to show a wedge of at least 5 degrees at the front of at least three neighboring vertebral bodies. The reason for this abnormal wedging of the vertebrae is not well understood.

Congenital kyphosis is the least common type of abnormal kyphosis. This is caused by an abnormal development of the vertebrae during development prior to birth. This can lead to several of the vertebrae growing together (fusing) in kyphosis.

There are other disorders that can lead to kyphosis in adults. The most common of these is from sustaining multiple compression fractures of the bony building blocks of the spine (vertebrae) from osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Other causes include degenerative arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, spine infections, and spine tumors. Each of these disorders can lead to a collapse of the front of the vertebrae and the development of kyphosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2014

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