Hyperkyphosis is a spinal deformity characterized by an excessive forward curvature of the upper back. In simple terms, it causes the back to appear rounded.
During adolescence, the most commonly known cause of hyperkyphosis is Scheuermann’s disease. This condition involves abnormalities in the growth of vertebral cartilage, resulting in wedging and irregularities of the vertebral bodies.
However, there are also cases of unstructured or non-rigid hyperkyphosis. These can be attributed to factors such as poor posture and weak extensor muscles of the spine. Psychological introversion is often observed in individuals with this type of hyperkyphosis.
Hyperkyphosis: When to Consult a Specialist
Parents often seek specialist consultation for hyperkyphosis when it has already advanced. This is usually prompted by:
- Noticing poor posture (forward-bent back when walking or sitting)
- Receiving reports of back or dorso-lumbar pain in their children
Early treatment is crucial to prevent hyperkyphosis from worsening over time and becoming rigid, which can negatively impact the patient’s quality of life. Hyperkyphosis not only leads to cosmetic changes but can also cause pain in both adolescence and adulthood.
Therefore, it is essential to consult a specialist at the first signs of postural alterations.
During the examination, the doctor will determine whether it is a rigid or mobile hyperkyphosis or whether it is postural or a Scheuermann’s disease if necessary. An X-ray of the spine may be requested to aid in the diagnosis.
Treating Hyperkyphosis in Adolescents
The treatment of hyperkyphosis in adolescents focuses on rebalancing the sagittal plane (lateral plane) of the spine, which goes beyond mere aesthetic considerations. The alteration of the sagittal curves of kyphosis and lordosis underlies the aging mechanisms of the spine.
The treatment approach for hyperkyphosis in adolescence takes into account several factors, such as:
- Age at the time of diagnosis
- The degree of hyperkyphosis is measured in degrees
- Stiffness of the condition
The treatment options may include:
- Specific exercises aimed at self-correction and strengthening of the erector muscles of the spine
- Utilizing a particular corset (brace) in cases where the curvature of the spine is more severe and rigid
- Surgical intervention for patients with hyperkyphosis with high degrees of curvature and increased spine stiffness.