Congenital and Secondary Kyphosis: What Causes Poor Spine Curvature?

The human spine is an interesting and complex part of the body. Comprising 33 rectangular vertebrae and shock-absorbing cartilage, the spine keeps our bodies standing tall. While the spine has some slight front-to-back curves in it, some degenerative diseases and other ailments can cause the spine to have abnormally-large curves near the upper back, creating a hump-like appearance. This extreme curvature is called kyphosis.

In kyphosis, the thoracic spine, located in upper back section of the body, curves more than normal, creating the appearance of a hunch back and poor posture while sitting and standing. Kyphosis is not itself a disease but is a disorder that can be caused by a number of different things. There are two major types of kyphosis, postural and structural, and each have their own causes.

Postural kyphosis

Postural kyphosis is caused by poor posture in children, teens, or adults. Walking and sitting with a continuously-hunched posture can lead to a gradual rounding of the upper back, followed by muscle fatigue and back pain. The pain and rounded shape are usually caused by the weakening of the muscles in the upper back because they are not being used to sit upright.

Postural kyphosis usually keeps the spinal vertebrae intact and can typically be corrected on your own with everyday posture adjustment. With a conscious effort to keep the back straight and erect, the rounded back should fix itself over time.

Structural kyphosis

As opposed to postural kyphosis, structural kyphosis cannot be fixed on its own and is usually related to a bigger structural problem within the spine. There are multiple different causes of structural kyphosis, some of which occur on their own and others that are caused by existing medical conditions:

  • Congenital: Congenital kyphosis is present at birth, although the effects of kyphosis may not be noticed until the child hits a growth spurt. With this condition, parts of the spine may be formed incompletely or missing entirely, causing a hunched-over appearance.
  • Scheuermann’s kyphosis: Scheuermann’s kyphosis is a disease in which the front part of the spine grows slower than the back part, forming triangular-shaped vertebrae instead of rectangular. The angle of each vertebra causes the spine to curve forward dramatically. Experts aren’t entirely sure what causes Scheuermann’s kyphosis, but it is speculated to be a genetic disease.
  • Secondary kyphosis: Secondary kyphosis is different from congenital and Scheuermann’s kyphosis because it is caused by another disorder rather than occurring on its own. A few common spinal conditions such as connective tissue disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis and other degenerative diseases are known to cause secondary kyphosis by collapsing the front of the vertebrae. Additionally, certain back traumas including spinal fractures, torn ligaments and compression fractures can weaken the vertebrae, causing them to collapse and kyphotic curves to appear.

To diagnose kyphosis, your chiropractor will typically conduct a physical exam, then may need to take an X-ray of your spine and examine the curvature present. By examining X-rays, the chiropractor should be able to determine the type of kyphosis you have and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

An Ideal Spine chiropractor will work through the Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) modality for a kyphosis correction plan. This not only helps guide a proper realignment of the vertebrae, it allows for consistent and ongoing re-checks to make sure curvature is regressing normally.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See for providers in your area.

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