Kyphotic posture, or kyphosis, is not only common among the elderly population, but also for many who sit behind a desk frequently, such as students and office workers. It is one of the primary causes of back pain, neck pain, migraines and weak hips. With the right intervention and awareness, people with kyphosis can improve their condition by improving their posture and getting the right type of treatment.
From a side view, kyphosis is the excessive curvature of the thoracic spine, causing a a "C" shape instead of a "S" shape of a normal spine. This curvature causes the lumbar spine to flex, negating its natural extension. The shoulders are rounded forward and the pelvis is tipped backward (posterior pelvic tilt), causing the rectus abdominus and chest muscles to shorten and tighten.
Postural kyphosis is the most common type of kyphosis and is often caused by habitual slouching, such as from sitting or standing for long periods of time. Many people often do not experience much pain and restrictions.
Scheuermann's kyphosis is similar to postural kyphosis, but the vertebrae and disks appear irregular and wedge-shaped, causing constant pain and restrictions during movement.
Congenital kyphosis is where several vertebrae are fused together in infants before they are born. If left untreated, it can cause further curving of the thoracic spine.
Aside from congenital disorders, postural kyphosis is caused by rounding of the shoulders, which flexes the entire spine, particularly the thoracic spine. The chest and abdominal muscles are shortened and tightened while the muscles in the posterior region are lengthened and weakened.
Weakness in the hips and core can also lead to kyphosis, especially with the pelvis tilted back because it causes the torso to pitch back. The head and shoulders are pitched forward to counter-balance the hips.
Common symptoms associated with kyphosis include sciatica, plantar faciitis, back and neck pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and headaches. People with kyphosis get fatigue and weak easily because of their weak hips and core.
Chiropractic care is the most common, non-invasive treatment of kyphosis, where the chiropractor uses combination of different techniques, such as spinal manipulation, trigger point therapy and manual therapy.
When combined with corrective exercises that stretch the tight muscles groups and strengthen the weak ones, people with kyphosis can not only prevent their conditions from getting worse, but may also regain the natural curves of their spine. These exercise programs are often prescribed by physical therapists, chiropractors or medical exercise specialists.