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Congenital Kyphosis & Spinal Deformities

What Is Congenital Kyphosis (CK)?

During embryological development, genetic mistakes may occur that result in one or more vertebral bodies not forming properly. As a person grows, this defect causes the spine to develop a sharp forward curve. This forward curvature of the spine is called kyphosis. If the condition is the result of a genetic deformity before birth, then it is referred to as congenital.

There are two basic types of (CK): Type 1 deformity (failure of formation) and Type 2 deformity (failure of segmentation). Additionally, a combination of these two spinal deformities makes up Type 3 (Mixed). Type 1 occurs when a portion of one or more vertebral bodies fails to form properly during fetal development. This deformity is visible at birth and usually worsens with growth. Type 1 often appears as a bump or lump on the infant’s spine. With Type 2 (CK), two or more vertebrae fail to separate or form normal discs/rectangular bones. As opposed to Type 1, Type 2 is more likely to be diagnosed later, usually after the child learns to walk.

Congenital kyphosis is not common, but it can be devastating to the spine if left untreated. Without treatment, the deformity can worsen and lead to a loss of movement and sensation in the lower body. Minor cases of (CK) are not likely to progress into adulthood or cause pain. In such cases, the curvature of deformity is less than 40 degrees. With more severe cases, especially in the lower back, (CK) may progress into adulthood and cause stiffness and pain.

How Do I Know If I Have The Symptoms Of Congenital Kyphosis (CK)?

The signs and symptoms of (CK) vary depending on the severity of the curve. If the condition goes untreated, it may lead to other symptoms as well. That being said, most symptoms remain constant and do not progressively worsen with time. This only occurs in more severe instances of (CK).

A general list of symptoms for (CK) includes:

  • Physical Deformities: This is usually in the form of rounded shoulders and a visible hump on the back. This often gives off the appearance of poor posture.
  • Stiffness: Spinal stiffness is extremely common in (CK) cases. Many also report tight hamstrings (the muscles in the back thigh) as well.
  • Pain: This is another common symptom that occurs in the back. Pain is usually constant and does not worsen over time. That being said, it can worsen if the condition goes untreated.
  • Fatigue: Day-to-day activities feel more taxing to those with (CK). Muscle fatigue is also a common symptom.

In rare cases where (CK) is left untreated, it can also lead to:

  • Neurological Symptoms: (CK) can lead to spinal cord compression over time. This can lead to other problems, such as paraplegia (loss of sensation and movement in the lower body). Some patients have reported tingling sensations as well, but as with everything else here, this is quite rare. Lastly, loss of bladder and bowel control may occur in cases where the spine has become compressed.
  • Cardiac & Pulmonary Symptoms: With thoracic (middle) kyphosis, the space in the chest can become limited. This can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and eventually, heart and/or pulmonary failure may occur.

If you have any of the above symptoms or your condition worsens over time, please contact us at (855) 220-5966. Dr. Jason Lowenstein and his team of experts offer award-winning, personalized care plans for congenital kyphosis.

How Dr. Lowenstein Can Help

As with most spinal deformities, treatment options depend on the type and severity of the condition. More conservative, nonsurgical treatments are usually recommended first. Physical therapy helps strengthen the back muscles and corrects the posture in patients with (CK). Therefore, it is a common form of treatment. If the patient is experiencing pain, he or she may receive mild pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for relief. In some cases, a kyphosis brace may be used to help correct posture. That being said, braces are not always effective for (CK), so it depends on a case-by-case basis.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical procedures for (CK) can be generally summarized as minimally invasive spinal fusion. The basic idea of spinal fusion surgery is to “weld” affected vertebrae together. This is done so that the bone can heal into a solid, single bone. This helps reduce the degree of the curve and it eliminates the motion between the affected vertebrae. The limitation of this motion often alleviates pain as a result.

During the procedure, affected vertebrae are first realigned to reduce the spinal curve. Bone grafts are then placed into spaces between the vertebrae which fuse together over time through growth. In some cases, a doctor may use metal plates, screws, and rods to help the fusion process and stabilize the spine. How the spine fuses ultimately depends on the severity of the curve. In this procedure, only the curved vertebrae are fused together.

As mentioned, (CK) can worsen over time and cause other debilitating medical problems. Because of this, Dr. Jason Lowenstein urges you to get your symptoms checked by a medical professional. Dr. Jason Lowenstein, MD is a leading expert in the field of spinal deformity care. On top of that, he is specially trained in minimally invasive spine surgery. Set up an appointment online or contact us today at (855) 220-5966.