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Kyphosis is a deformity of the spine in which the normal contours of the spine (when viewed from the side) are exaggerated. Commonly referred to as "sway back" or thought to be poor posture by parents looking at their children, kyphosis can be very mild to quite severe.
Kyphosis usually occurs in the thoracic spine and can be seen in teenagers and adults. In teenagers the cause is thought to be due to a growth disturbance in the vertebrae, and in older adults to compression deformities of the vertebrae themselves."
Kyphosis in teenagers is a deformity that usually occurs without pain. In older adults pain can develop along with the deformity as the body tries to compensate for the change in alignment of the spine.
The mainstay of diagnosis is x-ray to observe the curve and measure it. In some cases an MRI may be needed, and adults may require a CT scan.
The treatment of kyphosis in teenagers is usually observation (or in more severe cases, a brace). If the curve progresses and the deformity becomes severe, surgery may be required. The surgery results in improvement of the curve and a more cosmetic appearance to the spine.
In adults, treatment is usually non-operative with therapy and medications. Surgery may be necessary in some cases.