Kyphosis Treatment, Causes and Symptoms

Excessive kyphosis, or curvature of the spine, is a forward curve of the vertebrae (back bones) in the upper back giving a “humpback” appearance.

To provide the most effective spine care, your doctor uses our comprehensive health questionnaire to track your progress during and after treatment. This is especially important because curvature of the spine due to kyphosis tends to get worse over time. Your answers to the questions help your doctor determine if your kyphosis treatment is working effectively or if you need further treatment or surgery.

Causes of kyphosis

Kyphosis can be congenital (present at birth), or caused by another condition, such as:

  • Metabolic problems (problems with the body's energy system)
  • Nerve or muscle problems
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition that causes bones to break easily
  • Spina bifida
  • Scheuermann's disease, a condition that causes the upper vertebrae (spinal bones) to curve forward
  • Poor posture or slouching
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Cancer or benign tumors


Symptoms of kyphosis include:

  • Difference in shoulder height
  • The head bends forward compared to the rest of the body
  • Difference in shoulder blade height or position
  • When bending forward, upper back looks higher than normal
  • Tight hamstring (back thigh) muscles 

The symptoms of kyphosis may resemble other spinal conditions, or be a result of an injury or infection. Back pain, pain down the legs, and changes in bowel and bladder habits are not common symptoms of kyphosis. Always talk to a doctor if you have concerns about any spine condition.