Kyphosis is an abnormal posterior curvature of the thoracic spine. In the pediatric population kyphosis is generally related to posture or developmental conditions such as Scheuermann's disease, or an injury such as a compression fracture of the vertebrae.

Scheuermann's disease is a condition in which one or more of the bones of the spine (vertebrae) develop wedge-shaped deformities. This causes curvature of the spine (rounding of the back, or kyphosis), most commonly in the chest region.

The curvature may become permanent if it is not corrected within 6 to 9 months. However, bracing often prevents further progression of the disease and may improve the existing curvature. Exercises and good posture can also be helpful. Surgery is occasionally needed.

Scheuermann's disease occurs most often in children between ages 12 and 16 and is more common in boys than girls. The cause is unknown.

Symptoms associated with the condition

Mild kyphosis often has no symptoms other than a visual curvature of the spine. More moderate kyphosis may be accompanied by pain. Pain is the most common reason an adolescent seeks treatment. More severe cases can cause problems with the lungs and other organs, tissues and the spinal nerves.

How is kyphosis diagonsed?

The physical therapy evaluation consists of a medical history review, an evaluation of posture, joint motion and the strength of the spine, screening of arms and legs, and a visual inspection of the spine. Your child should wear loose comfortable clothing that allows them to move and will allow the therapist to see the child’s back.

The physical therapist will talk to you and your child about pain and other related symptoms.

Common rehab treatment interventions

If treatment is recommended your child may receive any or all of the following treatments:

  • Electrical Stimulation to control pain 
  • Massage to control pain and decrease muscle tightness
  • Stretching exercises for tight muscles
  • Strengthening exercises for weak muscles
  • Postural re-education
  • Back bracing
  • Referral to other appropriate health care providers, if needed 
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