If you were to look at an X-ray image of your spine from the side view, you’d see some natural gentle curves that ease inward (lordotic curve) and outward (kyphotic curve) from your neck down to your tailbone. These sways are critical to the normal movement and function of your back and neck, so anything that interferes with them can cause serious problems.
Dr. Patrick McNulty at Mcnulty Spine in Las Vegas, Nevada, specializes in spinal issues and treats many patients who suffer from abnormal curvature of the spine, including kyphosis, loss of lordosis, and scoliosis.
There are many things you can do to optimize your spinal health and prevent injuries and illnesses that affect your vertebrae, discs, and spinal nerves. These include keeping your supporting muscles strong, eating a healthy diet that promotes strong bones and tissues, and exercising to boost your bone health. But some things are out of your control. We call these risk factors. Here are a few conditions that up your chances of getting kyphosis no matter what you do.
It runs in your family
Genetics is a powerful foe. Many health conditions trace their origins to branches on the family tree. This explains why some children are born with kyphosis: a genetic malfunction causes two (or more) of their vertebrae to fuse together and change the alignment of the cervical spine.
In some instances, the vertebrae don’t develop normally and they end up having a triangular shape instead of rectangular. The triangles fit together in a wedge that forces the neck forward and causes a hump. This type is called Scheurmann’s kyphosis, and it’s typically accompanied by thickened ligaments surrounding the affected vertebrae.
Strong, healthy bones look like honeycomb under a microscope. While countless tiny holes are normal, if they get too large and porous, your bones become weak. This is called osteoporosis, and it happens when you’re not making enough new bone tissue, you’re losing too much bone tissue, or both at the same time.
People with osteoporosis have brittle bones that break easily, and it can happen without you even realizing it. Of course, pain is a clear sign that something’s wrong, but many compression fractures of the vertebrae have no symptoms whatsoever other than your stooped posture.
Certain medical conditions can also cause the characteristic slumping of kyphosis. Most commonly this is due to age related degeneration.
In mild cases of kyphosis, Dr. McNulty may treat your spine with a brace to gently and gradually correct the curve. But in more severe cases, surgery is often the best approach. Rest assured that if surgery becomes necessary, you couldn’t be in better hands than Dr. McNulty’s.
He’s a double board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a background in computer engineering, electrical engineering, and chemistry. He’s also a decorated veteran and an award-winning surgeon. With more than three decades of experience under his belt, he leads the field of spine surgery and successfully treats patients with equal parts of compassion and expertise.
If you think you might have kyphosis, contact us at McNulty Spine to schedule a consultation or request one online today.