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Causes of Kyphosis

Adolescent kyphosis is also known as Scheuermann's disease, juvenile kyphosis, vertebral epiphysitis and it is the most common form of this disorder and it may result from growth retardation or a vascular disturbance in the vertebral epiphysis during periods of rapid growth or from congenital deficiency in the thickness of the vertebral plates.

Other various causes include:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Aseptic necrosis
  • Injuries such as a car crash and disk degeneration

Adult kyphosis may result from:

  • Aging and associated degeneration of intervertebral disks, atrophy, and osteoporotic collapse of the vertebrae
  • Endocrine disorders, such as hyperparathyroidism and Cushing's disease
  • Prolonged steroid therapy
  • Other conditions, such as arthritis, Paget's disease, polio, compression fracture of the thoracic vertebrae, metastatic tumor, plasma cell myeloma, or tuberculosis.

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Kyphosis is caused by:

  • bad posture
  • a structural problem with the spine, or
  • surgery to the spine.

  • Bad posture
    Bad posture over a long period of time is a common cause of kyphosis. For example, if you slouch when you stand up, this stretches your spinal ligaments and can increase the natural curvature of your spine. Postural kyphosis is more common in girls than boys and is slow to develop. It usually occurs during adolescence and generally will not get any worse with time.

    Structural problems
    There are several conditions that can affect the structure of the spine and cause kyphosis (see the box, right). Kyphosis can be present at birth (congenital) when parts of the spine do not develop properly, though this is rare. The structural problems that can lead to kyphosis are listed below.

    Fractures of the vertebrae
    Fractures can be caused by conditions that weaken the vertebrae (the small bones that make up the spine), such as osteoporosis. If the fractures are uneven, they can cause the spine to curve.


    Spondylolisthesis is where one vertebra slips out of place. It can be caused by a birth defect or a disease such as arthritis.

    Wedge-shaped vertebrae
    Sometimes, kyphosis can be caused by a problem with the way the spine grows. The back of the vertebrae in the upper part of the spine grow more quickly than the front, making each vertebra grow into a wedge shape. When several vertebrae wedge together in a row, it causes a curve in the spine. This usually develops in adolescents whose bones are still growing. It is sometimes referred to as Scheuermann's disease and the cause is unknown.
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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