Kyphosis is more than bad posture — it’s a spinal change that makes it difficult or impossible to stand up straight.
If it’s happening to you, don’t delay seeking treatment. Dr. Patrick McNulty, our double board-certified, award-winning orthopedic surgeon at McNulty Spine, specializes in spinal conditions, including kyphosis, and he can diagnose and treat the underlying cause, restoring proper posture.
What causes a neck hump?
Your spine may look stick-straight from behind, but a side view shows gentle curves that evenly distribute your weight over your hips and pelvis. You have inward curves in the upper (cervical) and lower (lumbar) regions of your spine called lordosis, and you have an outward curve in your mid-back (thoracic) region called kyphosis.
Loss of lordosis can result in a neck hump, as can kyphosis — the name of the curve and the loss of it.
Several things can cause kyphosis and loss of lordosis, including postural problems and congenital conditions. The underlying issue dictates how Dr. McNulty treats it.
How to prevent a neck hump
Practicing proper posture can reduce your chances of developing a neck hump. If you spend a lot of time hunched over your phone or slumping at your computer desk, your neck and upper back muscles weaken, and your spine settles into a forward leaning position even when you stand.
The first step is to correct your posture and limit your time with devices that cause you to hunch. When you look at screens — computers and phones alike — keep them at eye level.
Strengthen your neck and back muscles by doing a few simple exercises, like chin tucks that gently stretch your cervical spine, scapular squeezes that tone your upper back, and pectoral stretches that loosen your chest and shoulder muscles.
Types of kyphosis you can’t prevent
Not all causes of kyphosis are preventable.
When genetics play a role in kyphosis, you have no control over how it affects you. If your bones didn’t form as they should in your mother’s womb, or if your vertebrae fused together instead of remaining separate, you may have been born with kyphosis.
Scheuermann’s disease occurs when your vertebrae develop into irregular shapes. Instead of a rectangle, they take on a triangular shape that forms a wedge with the adjacent vertebrae. The wedge decreases the space between your vertebrae and discs, creating a forward slope in your neck and upper back.
As you age, your discs naturally degenerate, becoming thinner, drier, and weaker. As in Scheuermann’s disease, this decreases the space between your spinal joints and can lead to kyphosis. Any problem that affects your disc health can affect your spine’s curvature.
Vertebral fractures, whether caused by trauma, compression, or osteoporosis, can alter your spinal anatomy and narrow the space, causing kyphosis.
How to stop your neck hump from progressing
If you have postural kyphosis, you may be able to correct it with physical therapy. In addition to the exercises we mentioned, professional physical therapy targets the muscles that need strengthening and provides a structured program custom designed for your unique symptoms.
Dr. McNulty might recommend bracing for postural kyphosis and the early stages of Scheuermann’s disease.
Spinal compression fractures due to trauma typically heal well with rest, but if osteoporosis is the culprit behind kyphosis, you may need medication to stabilize your bone density.
Degenerative disc disease often responds well to physical therapy and facet joint injections for pain relief, but if the structural change is severe, you may need surgical intervention.
If you require surgery for kyphosis, you’re in expert hands. Dr. McNulty specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques to can address the underlying cause and improve your symptoms and your posture. Severe kyphosis may call for spinal fusion, where he implants rods and screws to stabilize your spine and correct your neck hump.
Visit McNulty Spine to discover what’s causing your neck hump and how to stop it. Call or request an appointment online.