Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Kyphosis Treatment?
Our hospital is renowned for providing quality healthcare and has been helping people restore their health and quality of life since 1969. We offer residents of Los Angeles the treatment they need in a warm and compassionate environment, as we place great emphasis on the comfort and wellbeing of our patients. If you struggle with kyphosis, our skillful and talented surgeons will treat your conditions by using state-of-the-art technology, by virtue of which you will experience low risks of postoperative complications, a speedy recovery, and minimal scarring.
As a type of spine deformity, kyphosis is a curvature of the spine measuring 50 degrees or greater, whereas a normal spine can bend from 20 to 45 degrees of curvature in the upper back area.
When a spine is affected by kyphosis, it has a forward curvature of the vertebrae in the upper back area, giving it a severely rounded or humpback appearance. This is also known as roundback or a dowager’s hump.
The majority of people who receive a kyphosis diagnosis are between the ages of 12 and 17. Over 5.6 million children in the United States currently struggle with kyphosis.
The treatment you will receive for kyphosis will highly depend on the severity of your condition, your age, your general health, and your preferences. There are multiple treatment approaches for this spine condition, ranging from medication to relieve the discomfort to surgery. The following are the non-surgical treatments available for kyphosis:
- exercises: stretching exercises will help improve spinal flexibility and alleviate back pain
- bracing: kyphosis may be stopped from progressing in children who suffer from Scheuermann’s disease by wearing a body brace while their bones are still developing
- pain relievers: medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium, as well as stronger pain relievers, may be prescribed to people who struggle with kyphosis to alleviate their back pain, which is a very common symptom in individuals whose condition is severe
- osteoporosis medication: these drugs, whose purpose is to strengthen the bones, can prevent the occurrence of fractures along the spine that may worsen your kyphosis
When kyphosis cannot be kept under control with non-surgical treatment or is causing a lot of difficulties in the daily life of the patient by lowering their quality of life, they may be recommended to undergo surgery, which is very effective in permanently treating this spine condition. Similarly, when kyphosis causes the vertebrae to pinch the spinal cord or the nerve roots, surgery may be necessary to avoid health complications.
The most common, as well as the most effective, surgery for kyphosis, is spinal fusion. However, before spinal fusion, osteotomy will be performed, during which the surgeon cuts the bones to correct angular deformities. Afterward, the bone ends are realigned and healing begins. Spinal fusion entails the surgeon stabilizing the vertebrae by using bone grafts or a biological substance, as well as spinal instrumentation such as cables, wires, plates, rods, or screws. The purpose of spinal instrumentation is to increase the stability of your spine while the bones heal in a normal position. Because these medical devices are very small, they cannot be seen following surgery.
There are 3 types of kyphosis, depending on what causes it, namely:
- postural kyphosis: this is the most common type of kyphosis and is frequently encountered in girls as a result of poor posture and a weakening of the muscles and ligaments in the back
- Scheuermann’s kyphosis: this type of kyphosis also occurs during adolescence, is caused by a condition known as Scheuermann’s disease, and the kyphosis of the thoracic region will be around 45 to 75 degrees
- congenital kyphosis: this is the least common type of kyphosis and is caused by the abnormal growth of the vertebrae during development in the womb
Symptoms of Kyphosis
The symptoms of kyphosis vary in intensity and frequency in people who struggle with this spine condition. Accordingly, people with severe kyphosis will experience more intense and more frequent symptoms than individuals whose condition is not very severe. The most common symptoms of kyphosis include:
Diagnosis of Kyphosis
The diagnosis of kyphosis begins with a physical examination, during which the doctor will measure your height and evaluate your spine curvature. Usually, kyphosis, particularly if it is severe, is visible to the naked eye. Following the clinical examination, your physician will order one or more of the following tests to accurately assess the extent of your kyphosis:
- X-rays: kyphosis will be visible on X-rays and the doctor will be able to measure the curvature of your spine to determine whether your kyphosis is severe or mild
- CT scan: this test provides your doctor with clear, high-quality images of your spine by using X-rays as well and will help them determine the extent of your kyphosis
- MRI scan: unlike computed tomography, MRI scans use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to offer clear images from the inside of your body to the physician
- nerve tests: if you experience numbness or muscle weakness, your physician may order nerve tests to determine how well nerve impulses are traveling between your spinal cord and your arms and legs
- bone density tests: because bones that have a low density can worsen kyphosis, your doctor may also order this test for you
- radionuclide bone scan: this is a nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the bloodstream, and shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone
There are numerous causes for kyphosis, the most common being the following:
- fractures: compression fractures, which entail the vertebrae being crushed and broken, can result in the abnormal curvature of the spine in the upper portion of the body
- osteoporosis: as a condition that is most common in the elderly, osteoporosis causes the bones to become thin, which may lead to abnormal spine curvature
- disk degeneration: there are soft, circular disks that act as cushions between the vertebrae and, with age, they dry out and shrink, which often worsens kyphosis
- Scheuermann's disease: this disease usually occurs during the growth spurt that occurs before puberty and boys are affected more often than girls by it
- birth defects: spinal bones that do not develop properly in the womb can lead to kyphosis when the baby is born
- certain syndromes: syndromes such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome can result in kyphosis in children
- cancer and cancer treatments: if cancer occurs in the spine, it can weaken the vertebrae and thereby cause kyphosis, while chemotherapy and radiotherapy make people more prone to experiencing compression fractures, which are also a cause of kyphosis
If you want to alleviate your kyphosis symptoms, there are some alternative therapeutic approaches that will help you do this, such as:
- having a diet that supports bone health, rich in leafy greens and other foods with vitamins and minerals
- avoiding bone enemies such as coffee, smoking, and alcohol
- taking dietary supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, vitamin K, and omega-3 fatty acids
- engaging in yoga, weightlifting, and physical therapy
- getting ergonomic help to improve your posture
The only way to avoid the development of kyphosis is to pay close attention to your posture when you are young and your bones in your spine are still developing by avoiding slouching, sitting upright, avoiding carrying heavy schoolbags, and engaging in regular exercise to help strengthen the back and keep it flexible.