How is kyphosis treated?

Treatment for kyphosis aims to stop the progression of the curve from getting worse. Treatment depends on many factors, including the patient’s age, medical history, type of kyphosis, and the extent of the curve. The most severe cases may require surgery, but most do not.

  • Nonsurgical treatment for kyphosis: For patients who have postural kyphosis or Scheuermann’s kyphosis with a curve of less than 75 degrees, doctors usually recommend treatment without surgery. Treatment options can include:
    • Monitoring the curve over many years.
    • Exercises to strengthen muscles and improve posture.
    • Physical therapy.
    • Pain medication, such as anti-inflammatories.
    • In rare conditions during childhood, wearing a back brace.
  • Surgery for kyphosis: When kyphosis causes severe pain or other symptoms that affect quality of life, surgery can be considered to decrease the curve in the spine to resolve those issues. Surgery is used more often for patients who have congenital kyphosis. In spinal fusion surgery (the most frequently performed procedure), the doctor lines up the vertebrae in a straighter position and bonds them together by filling the spaces between the vertebrae with small pieces of bone. When these vertebrae heal, they “fuse” together. This operation helps lessen the severity of the curve to better support the body so that the curve does not increase.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/05/2017.


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