Manage Back Pain


Kyphosis is a term we use to describe the curve in the middle of your back. Viewed from the side it is the area in your back that curves outwards.

kyphosis When you look at the side profile of the spine it has three curves. The neck and lower back curve inwards. This is called a lordosis. The middle back, known as the thoracic spine, curves outwards and is known as a kyphosis. We must not confuse a kyphosis with a scoliosis. Scoliosis is where there is a curve in the spine as you look at it front-on and can be as a result of a congenital condition arising from birth, or the result of a twist in your spine arising from injury and pain.

Back to kyphosis!

The degree of kyphosis should be in proportion to the degree of lordosis in your spine. Sometimes your kyphosis can be too big and this can lead to a "hunched back" posture and place abnormal pressure on other areas of your spine. The degrees of curvature in your spine need to be correct to ensure an even distribution of load throughout your spine and pelvis.

If you have an increased thoracic kyphosis, it may result in excess pressure on your neck or lower back resulting in dysfunctional movement and pressure distribution. The end result is often pain.

I am often asked at my clinic how to treat an excess kyphosis.

Well, treating Kyphosis problems can be difficult. In all situations prevention is better than cure. If you are aware that you have an increased thoracic kyphosis you should have a physiotherapist/phyisical therapist have a look at it before it becomes a problem. Although most kyphosis cannot be reversed or reduced, correct posture and exercises can prevent it from worsening over time and can also prevent associated injuries.

Postural positioning can improve the faulty weight transference through your spine and pelvis - and appropriate strength exercises in the form of Pilates can further improve your alignment and movement patterns. All in all, these approaches will typically reduce the complications associated with an increased thoracic kyphosis.

The younger you start the better, but it is never too late to work at it!

kyphosisIf you have an increased kyphosis, your neck and lower back may be under pressure while you sleep. When you lie down the increased curve may cause excess strain on the joints of your lower back and neck. Using an orthopaedic pillow sized correctly for you may reduce this strain and prevent any pain associated with poor sleeping posture. Again, a physiotherapist will advise you on this.

However, be warned that using a pillow that is not the correct size for your spinal curves may worsen your condition over time.

Another form of kyphosis occurs as a result of sitting poorly over long periods of time. I regularly see clients who have back and neck pain associated with having an increased thoracic kyphosis as a result of their poor sitting postures. If you have a desk or driving job and sit in a certain way then an increased thoracic kyphosis can result. When treated and addressed early this curve can often be corrected. However, the longer it is left the more difficult it is to reverse and the more likely you are to get back and neck pain.

Finally, the thoracic spine is an area of the spine that has a tendency to get tight. Tightness combined with an increased thoracic kyphosis often causes excess pressure on your neck. So, if you have a stiff middle to upper back attend a therapist who will loosen it for you.

You will move and feel a whole lot better!

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Further References:

Lumbar Lordosis. Your lumbar lordosis is the curve at the base of your spine. If you look at your back from the side, you will see that your spine naturally curves inwards at the neck and lower back and outwards in the middle. Read more about Lumbar Lordosis.

Kyphosis. The middle back, known as the thoracic spine, curves outwards and is known as a kyphosis. Read more about Kyphosis.

Scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition where the curve of your spine is deviating to the right or left. Read more about Scoliosis.

Coccyx. The coccyx is the bone at the very base of your spine - the one that you sit on everyday! Read more about The Coccyx.

Animated illustration of the Spine. I really like this animation of the spine.

Further Spine Details. You will find an exhaustive breakdown of the components of your spine here.

Return from Kyphosis to Spine Anatomy

Return from Kyphosis to Back Pain Relief Home

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The information on this web site does not replace specific medical advice. It should only be used to complement advice from your doctor. Always seek in-person advice from a doctor or other qualified health provider for your particular condition.