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Kyphosis of the Lumbar Spine

Although Kyphosis is usually found in the thoracic spine area, it occasionally affects the lumbar spine in elderly patients and is considered to be a reversal of the normal anterior curve. Progressive lumbar Kyphosis (or camptocormia) is a rare usually inherited disease in elderly patients and is characterized by the inability to immobilize the lumbar spine in relation to the pelvis. Lumbar Kyphosis may be either localized or generalized. A localized lumbar Kyphosis produces a posterior angular deformity, most often due to a localized bony abnormality such as a collapsed vertebrae. Generalized lumbar Kyphosis is rare and is usually associated with a protective muscle spasm and a person's lumbar extension becomes restricted. In elderly patients, lumbar Kyphosis may be caused by spondylosis, spondylitis or possibly osteoporosis.

Symptoms

Symptoms of lumbar Kyphosis may include:

  • Curved of unattractive posture
  • Pain
  • Pressure on internal organs
  • Pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots which may cause weakness in the lower extremities

Diagnosis

In order to make a proper diagnosis and rule out other conditions, a complete history will be taken. If Kyphosis is expected, your doctor will want to know about specific things such as:

  • Family history of Kyphosis as some types of Kyphosis tend to run in families.
  • Date of noticed onset of the condition.
  • X-ray comparison if previous X-rays have been taken to measure curve progression.
  • Whether you are experiencing pain.
  • Bowel or Bladder Dysfunction.
  • Any changes in motor function.
  • Any previous surgeries.

A physical exam will also be done to get a better understanding of the curve in your back and how it is affecting you. In addition to X-rays and the above, your doctor will look at your spine movement, strength of your muscles, whether there is pain, test your reflexes and sensation as well as your motor skills.

Treatment

Depending on the reason for the Kyphosis, a variety of treatment options may be considered. We believe that conservative treatments be attempted first whenever possible. These types of treatments usually include medications, exercise and possibly certain types of braces to support the spine. However, in adults, the use of a brace will not cause the spine to straighten. Our partnered physical therapists may also be able to assist in calming pain and improving your mobility and strength. Although physical therapy will not change the curve back, it can be helpful in providing relief from the pain and inflammation. It is the goal of physical therapy to help you:

  • Learn correct posture and body movements to counteract the effects of kyphosis.
  • Maintain appropriate activity levels.
  • Increase or maximize your range of motion.
  • Increase muscle strength.

There are those cases where adult kyphosis requires corrective surgery. When conservative treatments fail to manage the pain, there are several surgery options that may be considered. The experts at SCCNS review this condition on a case by case basis and will use the most minimally invasive procedure necessary if a patient needs surgery. Our main goal of kyphosis surgery is:

  • Reduce the deformity / straighten the spine as much as possible.
  • Stop the progression of the kyphosis.
  • Remove any pressure from the nerves and spinal cord if needed.
  • Protect the nerves and spinal cord from further damage.

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