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Treating Hunchback: Minimally Invasive Surgery for Kyphosis

Woman hunched over computer at desk and working

Patients who have kyphosis can experience a lot of pain and even breathing problems, depending on how deeply the spine is curved. NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute, with locations all over northern New Jersey, has board-certified spine specialists who perform spine procedures and treatments that deal with complex disorders, including kyphosis.

Here, we discuss treatment options for kyphosis.

What Is Hunchback Kyphosis?

Kyphosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve outward. When it happens in the thoracic spine region, which is between the neck and ribs, it is known as thoracic kyphosis. If the kyphosis is in the lumbar region of the spine, it is called lumbar kyphosis. Sometimes, the curvature of kyphosis can make a person look like they are hunched over or slouching, which is why the condition can also be called hunchback or roundback.

It is important to note that kyphosis is often confused with scoliosis, but these are two different conditions that affect the spine. Kyphosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine from front to back, while scoliosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine from side to side.

Kyphosis normally does not cause health problems or need medical intervention. However, in severe cases, kyphosis can cause pain or breathing issues and may require surgery.

Types of Kyphosis

There are many types of kyphosis that patients can experience. The most common types of kyphosis are:

Postural Kyphosis

The most common type of kyphosis, postural kyphosis normally occurs during the teenage years. Postural kyphosis is due to poor posture and slouching, which stretches the ligaments and muscles holding the vertebrae in place. While there is usually no pain involved, stretching can pull the vertebrae out of place and cause a rounded shape to the spine.

Scheuermann’s Kyphosis

This type of kyphosis happens when the vertebrae have a different shape than expected. For instance, instead of being rectangular, the vertebrae can have a wedge shape, which pulls the vertebrae forward and makes the spine look rounded. Scheuermann’s kyphosis can be painful for the patient, especially during activities or when standing or sitting for a long time. This type of kyphosis affects less than 8% of school-aged children in the United States.

Congenital Kyphosis

Congenital means a condition that is presented at birth, and congenital kyphosis happens when a spine does not properly develop. Congenital kyphosis can increase in severity as a patient grows. Often, surgery during childhood can correct the curvature of the spine.

Cervical Kyphosis

Also known as military neck, cervical kyphosis happens when the cervical spine curves toward the front instead of the back.


This is a severe forward curvature of the spine where the curve measures more than 50 degrees. Hyperkyphosis is common after the age of 40. It affects 20% to 40% of adults over the age of 60.

Symptoms of Kyphosis

The symptoms of kyphosis can vary depending on the cause and severity of the curvature of the spine. The symptoms can include:

  • A visible hump on the back
  • Fatigue
  • Mild back pain
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Spine stiffness
  • Tight hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the thigh)

Over time, kyphosis can lead to more symptoms, like:

  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Loss of sensation
  • Shortness of breath or other breathing difficulties
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs

How to Diagnose and Treat Kyphosis

A mild version of kyphosis often goes untreated until a scoliosis screening happens in middle or high school. To formally diagnose kyphosis, the medical team at NU-Spine will perform a physical examination and ask about family medical history. If there is any sign of spine curvature or tenderness in the spine during the physical examination, the neurosurgeon may recommend an X-ray. An X-ray can help a doctor measure the curvature of the spine.

There are many ways kyphosis can be treated, depending on the type of kyphosis a patient has. Options may include:

Non-Surgical Treatments for Kyphosis

Non-surgical treatments are typically prescribed before recommending surgery to patients with kyphosis. These treatments may include:

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy involves exercises to strengthen abdominal and back muscles to relieve pain and improve posture. Exercise can also stretch tight hamstrings and strengthen other areas of the body to help with posture.
  • Pain medication: Anti-inflammatory medications can relieve back pain and swelling. These medications can be over the counter or prescription-strength.
  • Back brace: A back brace is the most common non-surgical treatment for kyphosis in children, especially those who have Scheuermann’s kyphosis. A doctor will discuss the type of brace and how many hours a day the patient needs to wear it.

Surgical Treatments of Kyphosis

There are surgical procedures that can reduce spine curvature. The most common type of kyphosis surgery is spinal fusion surgery. During the procedure, a neurosurgeon lines up the vertebrae in a straighter position. The vertebrae will be fused together by using small pieces of bone to fill the spaces between the vertebrae. As the vertebrae heal, they fuse or join together. This procedure reduces the severity of the curve.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Kyphosis

At NU-Spine, our neurosurgeons specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery involves an incision that is two centimeters or less where a small tube is inserted. It contains a microscope, camera, light, and precision tools. The surgery is done through that small incision.

The biggest benefit of minimally invasive spine surgery is that it is done with less damage to the body because there is no need to cut through muscle and tissues. Other benefits include:

  • Faster results
  • Less blood loss
  • Less muscle and nerve damage
  • Less bruising
  • Faster recovery time
  • Lower risks

Many patients can go home on the same day as their surgery, allowing recovery to begin at home.

Choose NU-Spine for Kyphosis Treatment

The world-renowned staff at NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute are advocates of minimally invasive spinal surgery. The neurologists believe the technique is on par with traditional spinal surgery, but it is less invasive, leading to a quicker healing time for the patient.

Whether a patient has kyphosis or is seeking a more accurate diagnosis of neck and back pain, visit NU-Spine as soon as possible. We are conveniently located in Paramus, Woodbridge, Toms River, Jersey City, and Holmdel, New Jersey.

Transform your life with a touch of care! Experience the cutting edge in minimally invasive spine treatments. Don’t wait for relief; schedule your appointment with our spine experts today and take the first step towards a pain-free future. Contact us today.

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