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Postural Kyphosis

What Is Postural Kyphosis?

Postural kyphosis (kye-FOH-sis) is a rounding or hunching of the back that usually affects teens. This is a normal variation, where the rounding of the back is exaggerated due to posture and not disease.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Postural Kyphosis?

Teens with postural kyphosis have a smooth, round shape of the upper back. It can look like a hunched back. It usually isn't painful.

Unlike with other types of kyphosis, someone with postural kyphosis can straighten the spine when asked to stand up straight.

What Causes Postural Kyphosis?

Postural kyphosis happens when someone slouches a lot. This "bad" posture makes the back muscles and the bones in the spine get used to that position. After a while, the back stays in a rounded or hunched shape.

Postural kyphosis is common in teenage girls, though boys can get it too.

How Is Postural Kyphosis Diagnosed?

A doctor will examine the spine while the child:

  • bends forward from the waist
  • is lying down flat

X-rays of the spine sometimes can help confirm the diagnosis.

How Is Postural Kyphosis Treated?

Physical therapy can help to improve posture. Exercises can strengthen the back muscles to help them better support the spine. Sleeping on a firm bed can help some people too.

Sometime the doctor will refer kids to an orthopedist (a doctor who treats conditions involving the bones). The orthopedist will examine the spine to see the cause and extent of the kyphosis and then recommend treatment.

What Else Should I Know?

Postural kyphosis doesn't get worse, especially after a teen is done growing. Learning better posture and strengthening the back muscles will prevent problems with posture later in life. If you notice your child has a rounded back and a hunched posture, talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Suken A. Shah, MD, Bernadette Fulweiler, APN
Date Reviewed: 10-01-2022

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