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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
During fetal development, the primary curves develop (thoracic and sacral).
All infants start life with a C-shaped spine. Their secondary curves (cervical and lumbar) develop as they become:
• able to lift the head (cervical)
• able to sit up (cervical)
• able to crawl, stand and walk (lumbar)
As children grow, their natural spinal curves continue to develop into a normal spine.
The most common type, normally attributed to slouching; can be treated by correcting imbalances in the musculature of the back, usually with exercise or bracing.
Usually more severe, more rigid and more cosmetically deforming; typically occurs in early-adolescent boys; can run in families; often requires brace or surgery.
Present at birth if a child’s spinal column did not develop normally in the womb; often requires surgery.
• excessive rounding of shoulders
• head bending forward compared to the rest of the body
• shoulder height difference
• difference in shoulder blade height or position
• height of the upper back appears higher than normal when bending forward
• tight hamstring (back thigh) muscles
• postural (attributed to slouching)
• congenital (present at birth due to abnormal development of the spine in utero)
• neuromuscular (associated with a neuromuscular condition such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida)
• related to metabolic conditions (internal body chemistry)
• related to an infection or tumor
• related to an untreated or poorly healed fracture
• hereditary (sometimes runs in families)
Risk factors for developing kyphosis vary. Common risk factors and predispositions can include:
• a family history of spine problems
• other birth defects
• neuromuscular conditions
• metabolic conditions that affect bones
• syndromes that affect neurologic function
• other genetic syndromes
• Untreated kyphosis can become progressively worse and can become painful and deforming, and can result in
lung problems, worsening deformity and pain.
• If surgery is needed, there is a very slight chance of complications from the surgery, such as bleeding, infection
or nerve damage.
• A very small percentage of patients who have had surgery will need an additional procedure, usually for cosmetic
• Older children and teens can have body image issues as a result of their kyphosis.
If you’re a teen with kyphosis, you have a lot to cope with. Besides the typical issues any teenager faces—from social acceptance to body image and more—you’ll also have to deal with medical appointments and procedures, some delay of your natural wish for independence, feeling different and assuming a big personal responsibility for maintaining your own good health.
The good news is that with successful treatment and your own compliance with bracing or other therapies, your kyphosis has a great chance of being corrected in the near future. But for now, if you feel self-conscious, depressed or anxious, speak to your doctor, nurse, parents or counselor—they’re all on your team, and they all want to help.
Most spinal problems have no definite cause and/or no known method of prevention. Some are genetic in origin. Proper nutrition, prenatal care and vitamin consumption (especially folic acid) are always important if you’re pregnant, or if pregnancy is a possibility. If your family has a history of birth defects, consult a geneticist.
There are many types of brace, including the Boston Brace developed at Children’s. A bracing program may help
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”