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Kyphosis, also known as roundback or hunchback, is a condition in which the spine in the upper back has an excessive curvature.

The upper back, or thoracic region of the spine, has a natural slight curve. The spine naturally curves in the neck, upper back, and lower back to help absorb shock and support the weight of the head. Kyphosis occurs when this natural arch is larger than normal.


If you have kyphosis, you may have a visible hump on your upper back. From the side, your upper back may be noticeably rounded or protruding.

In addition, people with kyphosis appear to be slouching and have noticeable rounding of the shoulders. Kyphosis can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain. It may also lead to breathing difficulties due to pressure put on the lungs.

Kyphosis in older women is known as dowager’s hump.


  • Common causes of kyphosis

    Kyphosis can affect people of any age. It rarely occurs in newborns since poor posture is usually the cause. Kyphosis from poor posture is called postural kyphosis.

  • Other potential causes of kyphosis include:

    • aging, especially if you have poor posture
    • muscle weakness in the upper back
    • Scheuermann’s disease, which occurs in children and has no known cause
    • arthritis or other bone degeneration diseases
    • osteoporosis, or the loss of bone strength due to age
    • injury to the spine
    • slipped discs
    • scoliosis, or spinal curvature
  • The following conditions less commonly lead to kyphosis:

    • infection in the spine
    • birth defects, such as spina bifida
    • tumors
    • diseases of the connective tissues
    • polio
    • Paget disease
    • muscular dystrophy

    Alleviate offers a number of specialists for pain management.

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