Thoracic hyperkyphosis is a condition where the thoracic (upper) spine curves forward, resulting in a slouched or hunched appearance. It can affect people of all ages for a variety of different reasons.
While most people have some level of curvature in the upper spine, a person is said to have hyperkyphosis if the angle of their curve exceeds 45 degrees. Common symptoms of thoracic hyperkyphosis include:
- Back pain
- The top part of the back looking curved or hunched over
Every case is different, but many thoracic hyperkyphosis patients also report feeling fatigued as a result of their condition. Furthermore, the visible effects of hyperkyphosis sometimes contribute to low self-esteem, a negative body image, and emotional and social issues.
What causes thoracic hyperkyphosis?
As mentioned above, thoracic hyperkyphosis can arise for a number of different reasons. The most common causes include:
- Bad posture – If you frequently slouch or otherwise fail to sit properly in chairs, your poor posture may end up causing hyperkyphosis over time.
- Scheuermann’s disease – Scheuermann’s is a condition (mostly affecting young people) that occurs when the vertebrae don’t grow evenly. This can result in a hyperkyphotic spinal curve. Read more about Scheuermann’s disease here.
- Congenital issues – Sometimes, a baby’s spine will develop incorrectly in the womb. This may result in the child being born with hyperkyphosis, with the condition progressing (getting worse) as they grow up.
Thoracic hyperkyphosis may also be caused by nutritional deficiencies, vertebral trauma, and a number of other problems.
How to treat thoracic hyperkyphosis
Just as hyperkyphosis
has many different causes, it can also be treated in many different ways, including:
- Physical therapy
- Spinal surgery
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we frequently treat thoracic hyperkyphosis patients who wish to reduce the angle and visibility of their curve and alleviate symptoms such as pain and stiffness. We do this using our ScolioGold method, an exercise-based alternative to surgical intervention that has repeatedly shown itself to be effective
in cases of a spinal curvature.
For more information on hyperkyphosis, watch our video here:
Learn more about ScolioGold therapy below or get in touch to arrange a consultation with Scoliosis SOS.
(a sideways curvature of the spine) can be caused by all sorts of different factors. For example, if your muscles are weakened by a condition such as cerebral palsy
or Guillain-Barré syndrome
, this can lead to a curvature of the spine that progresses over time. Some children are born with scoliosis because their spines didn’t develop properly in the womb; on the other hand, scoliosis sometimes develops much later in life due to the deterioration of the spine’s intervertebral discs with age. Of course, the vast majority of scoliosis sufferers have idiopathic scoliosis
, which usually arrives with puberty and has no known cause.
But now that we’ve covered some of the things that do cause scoliosis, let’s talk about something that definitely doesn’t.
Bad posture doesn’t cause scoliosis…
Bad posture can have a very detrimental effect on your general health, but there is no evidence that slouching in a chair or hunching over your laptop can cause scoliosis. As we recently clarified in our Scoliosis Myths
blog post, the same goes for:
- Wearing a rucksack on just one shoulder
- Playing a heavy guitar
- Carrying weighty loads on your back
The causes of scoliosis are many and varied, but generally speaking, the condition only ever arises as a result of genetic factors or neuromuscular / skeletal deterioration. Poor posture is not a recognised cause of scoliosis.
…but bad posture is still bad for you!
Of course, just because something doesn’t cause scoliosis doesn’t mean that it can’t affect your health in other ways. We’ve discussed the effects of bad posture
in previous blog posts, but we’d like to briefly revisit the potential consequences of postural health now, just to make sure you understand them.
Bad posture CAN cause:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Arm pain
- Hyperkyphosis (another curvature of the spine – hyperkyphosis is a forward curve, whereas scoliosis goes sideways)
treatment courses can help hyperkyphosis sufferers as well as scoliosis patients – in fact, one of our most famous patients came to us for help combating his hyperkyphosis. Nick “Topper” Headon, who was the drummer for British punk band The Clash (of ‘London Caling’ and ‘Rock the Casbah’ fame) from 1977-1982, developed a kyphotic spinal curve after years spent hunching over a drum kit; he completed a two-week course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and this enabled him to come off the medication he had been taking to help him cope with his back pain.
Scoliosis refers to a sideways (lateral) curvature of the spine, but when your spine curves forward, this is often referred to as a Dowager’s Hump. If you have Osteoporosis of the spine (a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue), your vertebrate can fracture, causing Kyphosis (an excessive outward curvature of the spine, causing hunching of the back) or a spinal back hump.
Where did the term originate from?
Because so many women suffered from untreated bone loss, Kyphosis was mainly associated with older women. Since the definition of dowager is “dignified elderly women”, and due to the fact that many older women developed this particular condition, people began to refer to the curvature as a ‘dowager’s hump’ – regardless of the sufferer’s age or gender.
What Causes Dowager’s Hump?
When your spinal vertebrae are impacted by osteoporosis, they can become brittle, and fracture as a result. This is more common with patients who bend forward at the waist, putting pressure on the spine. There are 3 types of spinal fractures: Wedge Fractures, Biconcave Fractures and Crush Fractures. The primary cause for developing Dowager’s hump, is a wedge fracture, which refers to the collapsing of the front vertebrae. This causes the vertebrae to tip forward, which results in the spine to becoming misaligned. As more and more vertebrae collapse, the sufferer’s back will become increasingly bowed. Quite often, you won’t realise that you have a wedge fracture, as they are a silent abnormality which rarely cause pain. If you notice slight rounding of your back, however, it’s important that you seek medical help before it increases in severity.
Can Dowager’s Hump be Treated?
If you suffer from Dowager’s Hump
, you’ll be happy to know it can be treated without the need for surgery. Here at Scoliosis SOS
, we treat a variety of spinal conditions using our carefully developed ScolioGold
method, including those suffering from kyphosis. This treatment programme is our own, unique approach to spinal therapy, which combines a wide range of proven, non-surgical techniques, to provide the best possible results for our patients.
If you wish to learn more about the methods included in our ScolioGold treatment programme, click here. To book an initial consultation, or to approach us with any additional questions, simply click here to get in touch.