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Postural kyphosis is an abnormal curving of the upper spine. This type of kyphosis is usually associated with long periods of poor posture. Often called "round back" because of the very obvious outward curve that develops, it commonly give the appearance of the stereotypical hunchback. This condition can be avoided or reasonably easily corrected if caught early enough. Very advanced postural kyphosis is also often treatable, but becomes more complex and the results may not be as good.
This condition is commonly seen in students, office workers, and other people whose hobbies or occupation involves sitting or standing in a slouched manner for long periods. It is also seen in people who spend too much time leaning or hunching forward, for example, bent over a desk or table to write or to complete small, delicate hobby or crafting tasks. It is very important to ensure hobby, craft, and occupational equipment is set at the correct height and position to encourage good posture and reduce the risk of developing postural kyphosis.
The occurrence of postural kyphosis among young adults is disturbingly common and is believed to be a result of the slouched posture generally adopted by many of them. This pose forces the pelvis backward and the shoulders forwards which eventually induces the condition. It is advisable to remind children and to correct their posture so that it becomes second nature as they mature into adolescence.
The spine and muscles in the back and upper chest are very strong and remarkably resilient, but repeated daily abuse and wear and tear will eventually take its toll. Although poor posture may not appear to have any immediate negative effects, in the long term serious issues such as postural kyphosis can occur. This condition is both preventable and treatable. Ensuring good posture is an excellent preventative and catching the condition early makes it easily treatable.
Correcting the posture before the curve becomes very obvious generally slowly corrects the inappropriate curving of the spine. Laying on the back on a flat surface forces the body into the correct alignment and can help in the early intervention of postural kyphosis. Regular muscle and core strengthening exercises will help to loosen and strengthen the affected muscles, thus slowly allowing the spine and muscles to return to their anatomically correct position.
If the curve is very obvious, simply attempting to adopt a healthy posture is highly unlikely to work. By this time the muscles and tendons in the chest and abdomen will have contracted and tightened to accommodate the curve. In severe cases, is it often necessary to wear a specially fitted back brace. This can be adjusted to slowly stretch the muscles and reduce the curve, eventually enabling a patient to begin muscle exercises.
This is a good, but brief, summary of kyphosis, and I notice that many of the links in the text do not go any further. To go into more depth there are great websites that gives extra detail on exercises, particularly for postural kyphosis. Hope this helps. --James.