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Tips for Avoiding Kyphosis

The team at the Center for the Functional Restoration of the Spine specializes in diagnosing and treating spinal disorders that can cause varying degrees of pain, interfere with your mobility, and reduce your overall quality of life.

Led by board-certified orthopedists Steve Paragioudakis, MD, and Marc Menkowitz, MD, we offer highly effective therapies using the most advanced technologies available to residents in and around the New Jersey communities of Shrewsbury, Toms River, and Edison.

Read what these dedicated professionals say about kyphosis, how we treat it, and tips for preventing it.

What is kyphosis?

Rather than forming a rigidly straight line, your spine has four gentle curves that help redistribute the jarring effects that walking, running, or jumping can have on your backbone. These natural curves are located at the cervical (neck), thoracic (upper), lumbar (lower), and sacral (lowest) regions of the back.

Kyphosis describes an exaggerated outward curvature of the upper spine that can eventually cause a hunched or stooped appearance. Mild kyphosis may not even be noticeable and is typically asymptomatic.

Along with visible changes in posture, a more advanced kyphotic curve can cause upper back stiffness and discomfort with sitting, standing, or walking. Severe kyphosis can lead to difficulty breathing and digestive issues due to the pressure the abnormal posture places on the lungs and stomach.  

Postural kyphosis, the most common type, is related to poor posture. Habits such as slouching over a desk or tablet, carrying heavy bags or purses, and standing or walking with your shoulders rounded forward can all affect the proper alignment of your upper spine.

Other conditions that may lead to kyphosis include congenital abnormalities (those you’re born with) and conditions such as osteoporosis, which causes declines in bone density and strength.

How can I prevent kyphosis?

You can help prevent and/or slow the progression of postural kyphosis by:

Developing and maintaining good posture

Posture refers to how you hold your body when you’re standing, sitting, or lying still. It also describes proper body alignment when you’re running, walking, or bending over.  

Strengthening abdominal and back muscles

Strong muscles, including those that support your abdomen and back, help you maintain proper spinal alignment.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Excess pounds increase the strain everyday life places on the joints, muscles, and tendons of the spine.

Exercising for flexibility as well as strength

Yoga, tai chi, and other similar disciplines focus on relaxation but also help you develop strength and flexibility. These programs also emphasize the importance of maintaining proper posture as you learn the various positions associated with these meditative practices.

Appropriate postural alignment can feel quite unnatural at first. You may find it helpful to work with a physical therapist or credentialed trainer to ensure you’re practicing good posture at home and work or while exercising. A therapist can also design a routine that includes exercises that specifically target and help prevent the progression of kyphosis.

Treating kyphosis

Depending on the severity and underlying cause of kyphosis, the specialists at the Center for the Functional Restoration of the Spine may recommend:

Note that surgery is reserved for the most advanced cases of kyphosis and is designed to correct the abnormality and prevent progression of the curvature.

For further information regarding kyphosis and the treatments available, schedule an evaluation today. Call one of our three offices or request an appointment online. We can help!

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