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Degenerative Kyphosis & Spinal Deformities

What Is Degenerative Kyphosis?

Degenerative Kyphosis is a commonly occurring spinal deformity in adults over the age of 40. The term kyphosis can be generally defined as the abnormal forward curvature of the cervical and/or thoracic spine. Degenerative refers to the damaging effects that come with age and normal wear-and-tear. Together, degenerative kyphosis refers to the development of a progressive forward curvature of the upper portion of the spine due to degradation in the spine’s architecture.

As we age, the intervertebral discs and cartilage that help preserve the integrity of the spine begin to lose their supportive quality. These cushioning discs and this lubricating cartilage naturally and slowly succumb to years of use. They dry out, wear down, and lose their buoyant qualities. This can lead to a loss of fluid mobility in the spine and the collapse of vertebrae. When this collapse occurs, the head and spine can bow forward, following our natural—or, not-so-natural—posture. (Think of the way that we hunch over computers and smartphones all day …)

We typically witness degenerative kyphosis in older adults, with incidence increasing as age increases. And like most degenerative conditions, kyphosis will only worsen with continued usage and the passage of time. Make sure to keep an eye out for any developing symptoms of kyphosis and get a jump on preventative measures.

How Do I Know If I Have The Symptoms of Degenerative Kyphosis?

Sometimes referred to as a “hunchback,” a kyphotic spine can lead to a host of troubling symptoms. Not only does this condition affect the physical body, but it can also affect your mental and emotional health. The appearance caused by kyphosis can hit our self-esteem like a freight train. If you are concerned about kyphosis in your spine, make sure to watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Cervical & Thoracic Hunching: A curve, or hump, will begin to develop in the thoracic and cervical spine.
  • Localized Pain: You may experience pain, caused by strained muscles and connective tissue, local to the developing curve.
  • Orthopedic Complications: Moderate to severe pain may develop when herniated discs and/or pinched nerves occur.
  • Neurological Symptoms: Radiating pain into the back, arms, or neck and head can result due to pinched nerves and strained muscles.
  • Forward Head Posture: With the head progressively pitching more and more forward, it can become difficult to look ahead, hindering one’s mobility and daily activities.
  • Life-Threatening Complications: Extreme cases of degenerative kyphosis, although rare, can result in serious symptoms. Difficulty with respiration and circulation can transpire, as well as loss of sensation and mobility due to spinal cord compression.

The symptoms of degenerative kyphosis will typically develop gradually, worsening over time. In some cases, this development can occur more rapidly. Whatever the course, prompt action must be taken to counteract this inevitable process. While this can often be accomplished at home, a visit to an orthopedic surgeon can give you the clear and defined answers you need to take care of your spine and your future.

How Dr. Lowenstein Can Help

Degenerative Kyphosis is a condition that is often treated with conservative modalities. Over-the-counter pain medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes are often at the top of the list. This does not make the condition any less serious, though. Degenerative kyphosis is progressive and can intensify over time. Surgery can become required when this occurs.

To avoid the need for surgery, it is best to have your spine evaluated today. Dr. Jason Lowenstein and his team of clinicians will use advanced imaging techniques to give you a clear picture of your spine. With this information, you and your treatment team can map a plan of treatment that will keep your spine healthy and pain-free. Call Dr. Lowenstein’s team today to set up your first appointment!