What is the treatment for abnormal kyphosis?
Treatment options depend on the type of kyphosis. Nonsurgical treatment is most common. Physical therapy strengthens the back muscles and corrects the posture of individuals with postural kyphosis. Mild pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can also help with symptoms. These curves do not continue to worsen with time or lead to complications that are more serious. Surgery is unnecessary for postural kyphosis.
Initially, health care professionals treat Scheuermann's kyphosis with a combination of physical therapy exercises and mild pain and anti-inflammatory medications. If the patient is still growing, a brace can be effective. Physicians often recommend braces for more severe kyphosis with curves of at least 45 degrees and can be continued until the patient is no longer growing. X-rays are frequently used to monitor the degree of kyphosis over time. Bracing is not typically recommended for adults who are no longer growing.
In some cases, physicians recommend surgery for Scheuermann's kyphosis. The goals of surgery are to partially correct the deformity of the kyphosis, relieve pain, and improve your overall spinal alignment. Indications for surgery include a curve greater than 75 degrees, uncontrolled pain, and neurologic, cardiac, or pulmonary complaints.
There are various types of surgical procedures available depending on the specifics of each case. Surgery can be performed from the front (anterior approach), from the back (posterior approach), or both (combined anterior and posterior approach). A surgeon makes the decision based on the specific characteristics of the spinal curve. A health care professional may obtain X-rays bending forward and backward to determine how flexible the spine is. If it is flexible, a posterior approach may be adequate. If the spine is less flexible, an anterior or combined approach may be used. Regardless of the approach, the surgery involves partially straightening your spine and using rods and screws in the vertebrae to hold the spine while a bony fusion occurs (spinal fusion).
Treatment of congenital kyphosis often involves surgery while the patient is an infant. An abnormality in the developing vertebrae causes congenital kyphosis. Surgical treatment earlier in life can help correct the spinal deformity before it continues to worsen.
Sometimes, a procedure called kyphoplasty treats kyphosis from the painful collapse of vertebrae due to osteoporosis. With kyphoplasty, a balloon is inserted into the affected vertebra and filled with a liquid (methyl methacrylate) that hardens to restore the vertebral height. This procedure is a last resort after the failure of noninvasive treatment.