What is thoracic kyphosis?

Also known as thoracic spine kyphosis, thoracic kyphosis is a condition in which the upper back becomes rounded. Such a condition is beyond the amount of rounding that some people experience due to poor posture. With a kyphotic thoracic spine, the amount of rounding generally exceeds forty to forty-five degrees. In popular culture, people with this condition are sometimes referred to as hunchbacks.

There are several symptoms that indicate the development of thoracic kyphosis. Stiffness or tenderness in the spine is very common. Mild back pain that seems to start in the upper back and move to the lower back is also often associated with an emerging case of thoracic kyphosis. The individual will also find it more difficult to maintain proper posture while sitting at a desk or even when standing. However, it is important to note that not everyone with this condition will develop signs or symptoms until the condition is well established.

There are actually three different types of thoracic kyphosis. Postural kyphosis is usually mild and does not progress beyond a certain point. With this type, the use of thoracic kyphosis exercises can often help relieve any back pain present. Along with using exercises to strengthen your back muscles, sleeping on a firm mattress can sometimes help control pain. Over-the-counter medications can also be used to help ease any pain that results from the condition.

With structural thoracic kyphosis, there is usually some type of abnormality in the development of the spine and upper back. The exact range of treatment will depend on the age and gender of the patient, as well as the stiffness present in the curvature of the spine. Physiotherapy can provide some pain relief, along with a series of exercises performed regularly. Wearing a back brace may also be a factor in treating this type of kyphosis. Anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful in pain management.

A third form of thoracic kyphosis is known as osteoporosis-related kyphosis. Here, there are a number of compression fractures present in the back, usually due to low bone density. The bones cannot provide adequate support, leading to a curvature of the upper back. The extent of treatment will depend on the severity of the bone density problem. In some cases, exercises and physical therapy can do more harm than help.

In some cases, surgery is recommended for the treatment of thoracic kyphosis. This is true when the degree of curvature does not respond to other treatments, or when severe pain or paralysis begins to occur. If there is an indication that the reason for the kyphosis is the presence of a tumor, surgery to remove the tumor can help relieve many of the symptoms and allow other treatments to begin to have a positive impact on the patient's condition.

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