Our spines have a slight natural S-curve shape, but due to stress, poor posture and acute injury, our vertebrae can shift. When this happens, a spinal curvature disorder can develop. There are a number of different types of curvature disorders, with the most common being scoliosis. However, another common curvature disorder that doesn’t get as much attention is kyphosis.
Kyphosis is a condition categorized by an abnormally curved spinal column in the thoracic region of your spine. This area is supposed to have a slight kyphotic (inward) curve, but if this becomes exacerbated, it can lead to a hunchbacked appearance. In today’s blog, we showcase how this curvature issue can be stopped and effectively treated through physical therapy.
Hyperkyphosis is most commonly seen in teens who are going through a growth spurt and in elderly women. If the vertebrae don’t align as expected during and throughout the teen years, it could lead to hyperkyphosis, whereas for older adults, bone deficiencies can lead to microfractures and the loss of the ability to support the spinal column, leading to shifting and exaggerated curving.
The good news is that physical therapy can play a crucial role in helping slow down the curvature and calm symptoms. Only in very mild cases can physical therapy help to reverse some of the curve, but for many people, physical therapy is enough to help them manage symptoms and avoid costly surgery. So with that in mind, here’s why physical therapy can be so helpful if you’re dealing with hyperkyphosis of the spine.
- Posture Improvements – For many people, especially teens, poor posture habits at a crucial stage of development is the driving force behind their kyphotic curve. If we can make postural improvements, the spine may be able to develop as expected without surgical intervention. A physical therapist can explain how you’re unknowingly stressing your spine throughout the day and give you some tips for performing regular posture checks and improvements if you find yourself slouching or hunching forward.
- Key Muscle Strengthening – A physical therapist can also help you strengthen key muscle groups in the area that help support your spine. These muscles are called the paravertebral muscles, and they attach to the spine and provide it stability and support. In patients with kyphosis, oftentimes they aren’t providing the necessary support because they are weakened. We can help develop these muscles and ensure they provide the necessary support so that your spinal column isn’t overburdened by stress and pressure.
- Helps With Bracing – A brace is another common treatment recommendation for people battling kyphosis because it provides additional support to the area. However, because the brace is helping provide the stability, the muscles don’t have to work as hard, which some believe can actually leave them worse off when the brace is removed. A brace can be crucial in slowing the progression of a curvature disorder, but it needs to be paired with physical therapy exercises in order to continue to strengthen the muscles in the area so they are ready to provide support when the brace is no longer needed.
- Eliminate Muscle Tightness – You may be surprised to learn that patients with hyperkyphosis oftentimes have very tight hamstrings as a result of the way their curvature disorder affects their hips and legs. We can help to relieve this tightness through physical therapy exercises and improve your range of motion. Kyphosis often affects more than just your spine, and we can make sure these impacted areas get the care and attention they deserve.
- Safe Exercise Routine – Finally, your physical therapist can help you develop a safe exercise or strength training routine that keeps your whole body healthy while also protecting your spine. You need to be a little more mindful about your exercise habits if you’re also dealing with a spinal curvature disorder, and a physical therapist can keep you active and reaping the benefits of activity all while protecting your spine. Let us help cultivate an exercise routine suited to your specific needs.
So if you’re’ dealing with a bit of a hunched appearance, know that help is only one call away. Connect with a physical therapist at OrthoRehab Specialists and let us help you shift your spine and prevent the need for a costly surgery.
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