Kyphosis in Children

September 23, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

Even in milder cases, Kyphosis in children is a condition that requires serious attention and care. If your child has been diagnosed with kyphosis of any type or degree, the following guide can help you better understand this condition and the treatment and care that can come with it.

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis describes an abnormal front-to-back curving of the spine. Some curving is part of the normal structure of the spinal column, but kyphosis can become a diagnosable condition when there is more than 50 degrees of curvature. People with kyphosis can have a hunched-over appearance, and in the most severe cases, physical disability and disrupted functioning.

Doctors have identified several types of kyphosis. The types that can develop in children and adolescents include:

  • Postural kyphosis: While this type is related to posture, it is generally caused by underlying structural issues. It can be addressed by postural therapy and exercise.
  • Congenital kyphosis: This type of kyphosis is present at birth due to abnormal spine development and will typically worsen with age. Surgery will usually be needed to slow down the progression of the curvature.
  • Scheurman’s kyphosis: An extremely rare disease that causes severe and sometimes painful kyphosis that often develops in the teen years.

The type of kyphosis diagnosed can make a difference in the symptoms displayed and treatment required in children.

Kyphosis Causes

There are many reasons a child may develop kyphosis, including:

  • Congenital defects with spine development
  • Postural issues
  • Spinal injuries and fractures
  • Scheurman’s disease
  • Spinal degeneration and osteoporosis, typically in older patients

Kyphosis Risk Factors

In some cases, doctors may not be able to identify a cause. Risk factors can include gender, family history, other birth defects, diseases, and infections.

Kyphosis Symptoms

Kyphosis does not always cause symptoms, but visible and physical signs of the condition include:

  • Visible upper back hunching
  • Bending forward in the neck and head
  • Aches and pains
  • Neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Problems with movement

Kyphosis Complications

While kyphosis in children is often manageable, untreated cases can increase the risk of a number of complications. Kyphosis can be associated with muscle weakness in the back, neck, and surrounding areas that can decrease physical development, mobility,  and cause discomfort. Severe kyphosis can also put pressure on surrounding organs and potentially disrupt their function, leading to digestive issues, breathing problems, and cardiovascular issues.

Although it is not possible to cure or fully correct kyphosis, diagnosis and treatment can play a role in slowing down the progress of the curvature and improving function.

Diagnosing Kyphosis

Doctors can typically diagnose kyphosis in children by sight, but it is still important to perform a full examination to identify the type of kyphosis present and the overall health of spinal anatomy and surrounding organs. Diagnosing kyphosis should involve the following steps:

  • Review of medical history
  • A detailed discussion of symptoms and how they are affecting your child
  • A thorough physical examination, including movement and posture tests
  • Diagnostic imagery, including X-ray and MRI to determine the degree of curvature, detect deformities in the vertebrae, and the potential presence of tumors or other growths
  • Nerve tests to determine the source of symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness if they are present

Kyphosis Treatment

Once your doctor has diagnosed the type and degree of kyphosis, treatment will depend on individual factors such as the severity of symptoms and how they are negatively impacting your child’s activity level. Some cases may require no treatment, while mild to moderate kyphosis can benefit from postural training, physical therapy, and bracing. If the condition is causing pain and discomfort, doctors can recommend appropriate medication.

Because young spines are still developing and growing, surgical procedures are usually not recommended for kyphosis in children. Possible exceptions are cases where the deformity is severe and painful enough to be debilitating or a threat to health, or if there is a tumor or other growth present.

Caring for a Child with Kyphosis

Children living with kyphosis often encounter a number of care needs that require attention. This can include ongoing physical therapy appointments, special dietary needs, assistance with braces and other equipment, and managing medications. Some children also benefit from assistance with emotional and/or behavioral counseling to adjust to life with this condition.

Families dealing with these and other care issues often need help balancing these needs with a normal and stable home life. For a wide array of situations, pediatric home health services can help optimize busy schedules while meeting treatment and care goals. A qualified pediatric home health professional can be an extended part of the family, helping you and your child achieve the best possible outcome with this condition.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.