What is Hyperkyphosis and What are the Types?

Hyperkyphosis is a spinal alteration, a condition that mostly affects adolescents who spend long hours with a curved back in front of personal computers, smartphones, and video games. However, it can also result from vertebral deformities.

What is Hyperkyphosis?

 It is the natural accentuation of the inward curve in the upper part of the spine, known as thoracic kyphosis. This curve, usually slight, along with the opposite curves called lordosis found in the upper and lower back, allows for maintaining an upright posture and the necessary trunk flexibility for movement. However, when the thoracic kyphosis becomes excessively pronounced, forming a hump commonly known as “hunchback,” it is referred to as hyperkyphosis.

Causes

The causes can be diverse and of various natures. Hyperkyphosis may result from:

  • Prolonged incorrect posture
  • Low muscle mass, commonly found in adolescents who spend many hours with a curved back in front of PCs, smartphones, and video games
  •  Congenital or acquired vertebral deformities or frequent vertebral fractures, especially in young individuals engaging in sports with a high impact on the spine or in the elderly suffering from osteoporosis, with a higher incidence in women.

Symptoms

In addition to the aesthetic damage, where the presence of a disproportionate trunk with the upper part curved and unbalanced by the lower part is evident, the classic symptoms of hyperkyphosis include:

  • Back pain and stiffness
  • Soreness of the spine, which can cause severe fatigue.

Diagnosis

The physician typically performs a comprehensive physical examination during the visit, including checking weight and height. They might ask the patient to bend forward from the waist while observing the spine from the side.

After evaluating the aesthetic signs and symptoms, the physician may recommend:

  • A neurological examination to check reflexes and muscle strength
  • X-rays or CT scans to determine the degree of curvature and detect vertebral deformities

Hyperkyphosis Treatment

Therapy is determined based on the causes and intensity of symptoms. In cases of hyperkyphosis due to poor posture (idiopathic hyperkyphosis), which are more commonly found in young people and adults, stretching and muscle strengthening exercises combined with physical therapies, such as tecar therapy, performed with an experienced physiotherapist, are necessary to:

  • Improve posture
  • Reduce pain
  •  Prevent recurrence

Prevention Through Sports

Especially in children and adolescents, adopting a correct posture and developing good muscle strength is crucial to prevent hyperkyphosis. Engaging in sports from childhood is essential for this purpose. I recommend that parents encourage their children to participate in sports that promote strengthening of the back muscles, such as swimming

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