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Typically, a doctor's visit is scheduled due to a recommendation following a scoliosis screening examination at school or at the pediatrician, a child's or parent's concern about the cosmetic deformity of a rounded back, or pain caused by a rounded back.
The doctor may ask the child to bend forward so that the slope of the spine can be assessed. This may be followed by an x-ray of the spine to show if there are any bony abnormalities. X-rays help measure the degree of the kyphotic curve. If the curve is more than 50° it is considered abnormal. We may also want to obtain an MRI of the spine if we suspect any compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
Most of the time, kyphosis can be treated with physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles of your back and correct your posture. Mild pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can also help with symptoms. Surgery is not usually needed for postural kyphosis.
Scheuermann's kyphosis is usually initially treated with a combination of physical-therapy exercises and mild pain and anti-inflammatory medications. If the patient is still growing, a brace can be effective. Braces are often recommended for curves of at least 50-55 degrees and can be continued until the patient is no longer growing. In some cases, surgery is recommended, especially in cases where there is a curve greater than 75 degrees, significant pain, or other serious complaints.
Treatment of congenital kyphosis often involves surgery while the patient is still an infant. This is because the kyphosis is caused by an abnormality in the developing vertebrae. Surgery earlier in life can help correct the kyphosis before it continues to worsen. Sometimes kyphosis due to osteoporosis is treated with a procedure called a kyphoplasty, whereby a balloon is inserted into the affected vertebra and filled with a bone cement to restore the vertebral height.