Does Kyphosis Affect Height?

Kyphosis is a prevalent condition that can occur at any age, particularly among individuals who regularly maintain improper sitting or standing postures. Apart from its adverse effects on physical well-being, kyphosis can also lead to self-consciousness due to concerns about one’s perceived unattractiveness. In this article, let’s delve into the effects of kyphosis on height and overall appearance.

Understanding Kyphosis

Kyphosis refers to an excessive forward curvature of the upper spine, resulting in a spinal hump. In infants, children, and adolescents, kyphosis can be caused by congenital spine defects or the gradual compression of spinal joints. In adults, weakened spinal bones that are compressed or fractured are typically responsible for kyphosis.

Kyphosis can be classified into three main types:

  1. Postural Kyphosis: This occurs when the spine curves beyond 50 degrees.
  2. Scheuermann’s Kyphosis: This type is characterized by a rounded hump on the back caused by abnormal vertebrae growth. It significantly affects children and adolescents.
  3. Congenital Kyphosis: This is identified by an outward curve of the spine present at birth, which becomes more pronounced as the individual grows.

The severity of kyphosis can lead to pain and physical deformity, while milder cases may cause minor discomfort. Treatment options vary depending on factors such as age, underlying cause, and the impact of the spinal curvature.


Signs of having a hunchback

In many instances, mild hunchback does not exhibit clear symptoms for easy identification of the condition. It is only as the condition progresses that patients may start experiencing symptoms such as back pain and joint stiffness.

Orthopedic doctors commonly identify the following signs of hunchback:

  1. Forward hunched posture with a noticeable bump on the back (visible when viewing the patient from the left or right).
  2. Back pain of varying degrees of severity, ranging from mild discomfort to throbbing pain, soreness, or intense pain.
  3. Difficulty in movement, particularly when attempting to stand up straight.
  4. Reduced height, which can affect one’s overall appearance.

In some cases, individuals with hunchback may also experience sensations like numbness, weakness, tingling, or itchiness in their legs.

Hunchback can originate from several causes such as:

  • Fractures: Fractured vertebrae can result in a curved spine. Weak bones are more prone to compression fractures, which are a common cause of hunchback.
  • Osteoporosis: Reduced bone density makes bones weaker and more susceptible to compression fractures. Osteoporosis is most prevalent in older women and the elderly.
  • Scheuermann’s disease: This condition typically emerges during the growth and development of children and adolescents. As the skeletal system develops, the hunchback condition gradually worsens.
  • Congenital deformities: Abnormal spinal development in the fetus can also lead to hunchback at birth. Certain pathologies, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, are associated with this cause.
  • Poor posture habits: Incorrect posture habits are a common cause of hunchback in children and adolescents. Prolonged incorrect postures become habitual, resulting in gradual structural changes in the bones. Furthermore, poor posture contributes to serious health issues.

How does hunchback affect height?

Hunchback has a significant impact on the height of individuals affected by the condition. It not only affects overall height but also has serious consequences. In children, hunchback restricts natural height development, making it challenging to reach the ideal height for their age. In adults, hunchback results in a reduction in height, with even a few centimeters of height being lost.

Hunchback hinders height development in children and adolescents

The disease affects various factors that play a role in determining height, including bone health, nutrient absorption, mobility, and rest.

A strong skeletal system is crucial for proper height growth. However, individuals with hunchback experience a decrease in bone mass and density, as well as erosion of the spine. The nutrients supplied to the body may be utilized for repairing damage rather than supporting bone development.

Hunchback can also compress the digestive system, leading to issues such as acid reflux and difficulty swallowing. This makes eating challenging, and the body may struggle to provide sufficient nutrition for optimal bone health. Additionally, hunchback affects the body’s balance, joint flexibility, and range of motion, making it difficult to engage in exercises that promote height increase.

Lastly, the frequent pain associated with hunchback can significantly impact sleep quality, further affecting overall well-being.

Can hunchback make you permanently short?

Hunchback can lead to “permanent” height loss as it brings about changes in the bone structure. Individuals with hunchback often have lower shoulder height compared to those without the condition, and their neck may not be visible when viewed from behind.

Surveys have indicated that maintaining proper posture can increase natural height by 1-2cm. However, individuals with hunchback may experience a height loss of approximately 4-6cm, which has a negative impact on their physical appearance.

How to effectively treat hunchback?

For most cases of hunchback, treatment may not be necessary. However, when hunchback is caused by poor posture, the most effective treatment is to improve posture. In cases of hunchback resulting from abnormal spinal curvature, such as Scheuermann’s kyphosis, treatment options depend on factors like age, gender, and the severity of the curve.

Other effective treatment methods include:

  1. Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help alleviate hunchback-related pain. Stronger prescription medications can be considered if needed, in consultation with a doctor.
  2. Exercise and physical therapy: Engaging in exercises that strengthen core muscles and improve flexibility, such as yoga, pilates, or certain martial arts, can be beneficial for hunchback. Aim for 30-45 minutes of exercise per day, ensuring proper technique and staying within your physical capabilities.
  3. Wearing a back brace: For teenagers with mild to moderate hunchback, wearing a back brace can help prevent the worsening of spinal curvature. Modern back braces are designed to be discreet and can even be worn during exercise.

It is important to note that hunchback treatment should be undertaken under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure effectiveness and safety.

Please note: The use of back braces is not recommended for adults as it cannot correct the already developed bone structure and spinal position.


Learning about surgery for treating kyphosis

Note: This method is not suitable for adults as it cannot correct the already developed bone structure and spinal position.

Surgery is an option for treating kyphosis to alleviate pain and correct the shape of the back. However, it comes with a higher risk of complications. It is typically recommended for severe cases that exhibit symptoms such as:

  1. Noticeable curvature of the spine.
  2. Chronic pain that cannot be effectively managed with medication.
  3. Impaired organ function, such as respiratory or digestive issues, caused by the curvature.
  4. A risk of the curvature worsening if left untreated.

During the surgical procedure, the spine’s curve is straightened using metal rods, screws, and hooks. The surgery can take between 4 to 8 hours, and postoperatively, you may need to wear a back brace to provide support to the spine.

Please note that all treatment options, including surgery, should be discussed and decided upon in consultation with a healthcare professional.

Preventing Kyphosis: Effective Tips

Maintaining proper posture during various activities is crucial in preventing kyphosis. Here are some guidelines to help prevent kyphosis:

  1. Standing and walking posture: Keep your head straight, shoulders balanced, and chest slightly lifted forward.
  2. Sitting posture: Maintain a straight back, with your head upright, knees at right angles to your hips, and gaze forward.
  3. Lifting and carrying objects: Squat down, use both hands to grasp the object, and slowly straighten your legs while keeping your back straight, avoiding any bending or twisting.
  4. Sleeping posture: Lie flat on your back to keep your spine aligned. If you prefer to sleep on your side, use a thin pillow or a body pillow to support your arm and leg.

In addition to maintaining proper posture, regular exercise plays a vital role in preventing kyphosis. Engaging in exercises that strengthen the core muscles, improve flexibility, and promote good posture can be beneficial.

While kyphosis is not a life-threatening condition, it can have a significant impact on appearance and psychological well-being for those affected. In children and adolescents, kyphosis can also hinder growth and have negative effects on both physical health and psychological aspects. To prevent such situations, it is important to be mindful of body posture, engage in regular exercise, and maintain a healthy diet.