Kyphosis in the Adolescent and Young Adult
The normal spine, when viewed from behind, appears straight throughout its entire length. However, when one looks at the spine from the side, there are two visible curvatures. There is a gentle rounding of the upper back from the shoulders to the bottom of the ribcage known as thoracic kyphosis and an opposite curve in the lower back known as lumbar lordosis. These two opposite curvatures of the spine are necessary in the normal spine to balance the trunk and head over the pelvis.
A normal thoracic spine extends from the 1st to the 12th vertebra and should have a slight kyphosis ranging from 20o to 45o. When the “roundness” of the upper spine increases past 45o it is called “hyperkyphosis”. Scheuermann’s kyphosis is the most classic form of hyperkyphosis and is the result of wedged vertebrae that develop during adolescence. The cause is not currently known and the condition appears to be multi-factorial and is seen more frequently in males than females.