Your spinal column is made up of 24 bones (vertebrae), ligaments, and muscles. The spine is supposed to sit completely straight in your back. However, some conditions can cause the spine to be out of shape. When this happens, your entire back can shift out of shape. Let’s take a look at two conditions that prevent the back from being straight: kyphosis and scoliosis.
Kyphosis is a spinal disorder in which the spine develops an outward curve. This causes the upper back to have an abnormal rounding to it. This condition is also called “roundback.” Kyphosis often occurs during adolescence, although it can develop at any age.
The spine is divided into three parts: the cervical spine (from the top of the neck to upper back), the thoracic spine (middle of the back), and the lumbar spine (lower back). The thoracic spine is supposed to have a natural curve of 20 – 40 degrees. However, when this curve goes above 45 degrees, it means it has abnormal kyphosis. There are three classifications of kyphosis:
- Postural Kyphosis This is the most common type of kyphosis and is often referred to as poor posture or slouching. There is no spine abnormality associated with postural kyphosis. When you stand up or sit up straight, the kyphosis is corrected.
- Scheuermann’s Kyphosis This form of kyphosis involves a structural abnormality in the spine. Instead of their normal shape, the vertebrae in the spine have a triangular shape. This causes them to wedge together toward the front of the spine, which decreases the spacing between them and exaggerates the upper back’s forward curvature. The kyphosis is typically rigid and does not correct itself when you stand up straight.
- Congenital Kyphosis This condition refers to kyphosis that is present at birth. The spinal columns do not develop normally during pregnancy, which causes the baby to have an abnormally curved spine at birth.
Scoliosis refers to the curvature of the spine in a “C” or “S” shape. Scoliosis can develop with conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy or completely on its own. Symptoms of scoliosis include uneven shoulders, an uneven waist, or having one hip higher than the other. There are several types of scoliosis. Here are some of them:
- Idiopathic Scoliosis 80% of scoliosis cases have no known cause – they are referred to as idiopathic scoliosis. They develop mostly during adolescence.
- Neuromuscular Scoliosis This type of scoliosis develops when there is brain or nerve damage caused by an illness or injury. The brain or nerve damage can cause the muscles in the back to not function properly, which gives way for scoliosis development. As patients age, the scoliosis is likely to get worse.
- Congenital Scoliosis This refers to scoliosis conditions that develop while in the womb. Babies can be born with this condition if their spines’ vertebrae do not fully develop while in the womb.
- Degenerative Scoliosis This condition develops in patients who had scoliosis earlier in life. As the patients age and their bodies go through wear and tear, the spine can collapse which increases scoliosis symptoms.
Spinal Disorder Treatment in Central Maryland
If you have a spinal disorder such as an abnormally shaped spine, see a doctor about ways to correct or manage your condition. The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics specializes in spine care. Make an appointment today by calling (410) 644-1880 or request an appointment online.