Children's Hospital Colorado
Spine Program

Kyphosis

Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What is kyphosis in kids?

Kyphosis is a rounding of the back when viewed from the side. Every spine has kyphosis or curvature that usually helps maintain a normal standing spinal balance.

Spines with kyphosis greater than 40 to 50 degrees can give a “hunchback” appearance. In some cases, this can cause back pain or unhappiness with appearance.

Three general categories of kyphosis affect kids:

  • Postural kyphosis is the most common form, and most people simply call it slouching. It is more common in boys during adolescence. With postural kyphosis, the spine doesn’t have a structural deformity. The spine has normal flexibility and doesn’t typically cause pain in childhood or problems in adulthood.
  • Scheuermann’s kyphosis is caused by growth disorders and disc degeneration in the spine. The vertebrae (small bones) in the upper back become wedge-shaped, which leads to excessive kyphosis. Scheuermann’s kyphosis usually becomes noticeable in the teen years and may worsen as your child grows. Some children develop back pain, and many kids with this condition are unhappy with how their body looks.
  • Congenital kyphosis develops while a baby is growing in the womb. It is caused by defects in the development of the spine. The bones of the spine may not form normally, or they may fuse together. Congenital kyphosis may worsen as the child gets older.

Who gets kyphosis?

Kyphosis is generally more common in teenage boys. Some children can develop kyphosis in the womb, but most cases develop during adolescence.

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