Kyphosis refers to the natural curve of the thoracic spine (upper middle back), which normally has a forward curve of 20 to 40 degrees. Though the thoracic spine is supposed to be curved, if the curve in a person’s thoracic spine is more than 40 to 45 degrees, it is considered abnormal or a spinal deformity, sometimes called a “hunchback.” Scheuermann’s kyphosis occurs during adolescence when the bones are still growing, and males are twice as likely to develop it than females.
Vertebrae are normally rectangular in shape and stack on top of each other with a soft cushion in between each. Scheuermann’s kyphosis happens when the vertebrae wedge closer together in a triangular shape, causing the spine to curve more than normal.
Treatment for Scheuermann’s kyphosis depends on several factors, including the patient’s age, gender, severity and flexibility of the curve.
Bracing is used in older patients to help support the spine and relieve pain, but will not change the curve. In younger patients, the goal of bracing is to guide the growth of vertebrae in order to straighten the spine.
Surgery is most effective on kyphosis that exceeds 75 degrees. BSSNY spine surgeons offer several surgical options, many of which are minimally invasive.