Spine: Cervical Kyphosis
The word kyphosis is used to describe a "C"-shaped curve in the spine. A "kyphosis" curve has the opening of the "C" in the front of the body. This type of curve is the opposite of a "lordotic" curve in the spine. A lordotic curve has the opening facing towards the back. The normal spine has both types of curves, but in small amounts. These curves become a problem when they are larger than normal - the larger the curve, the more serious the problem. Many different conditions can lead to an excessive kyphosis.
The thoracic, or mid portion of the spine, normally has a kyphotic curve. The curves of the spine are usually measured in degrees. A thoracic kyphosis is normal when measured at 20-40 degrees. The cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back) have "lordotic" curves that face the opposite direction - like a backward "C".
When the thoracic spine curves outside of the normal range, it creates a "hunchback" look and the shoulders slump forward. If the cervical or lumbar spines lose their lordotic shape and start to curve forward instead, it is an abnormal condition referred to as "kyphosis". The abnormal forward curvature can lead to problems within the spine in addition to an unusual appearance.
Kyphosis can have varying symptoms and degrees of severity, from minor changes to the shape of your back and neck, to severe deformity, neurologic deficits, and chronic pain. Kyphosis is most common in the thoracic spine, though it can also affect the cervical and lumbar spine. Symptoms
The symptoms of cervical kyphosis can range from a simple nuisance to a severe deformity, which can lead to paralysis if untreated. Symptoms can include mechanical neck pain if the kyphosis is due to degenerative changes in the cervical spine. You may have a reduced range of motion in the neck. This means you may not be able to rotate your neck fully and you may have difficulty looking up for any length of time.
If the kyphosis is severe, you may begin to have problems with the nerve roots or the spinal cord, due to pressure on the nerves in the cervical spine. This may cause: weakness in the arms or legs, loss of grip strength, or difficulty walking due to spasticity in the legs. You may have problems controlling your bladder or bowels. In extremely severe cases that are left untreated, paralysis from the neck down may even result.
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