“Sit up straight or you’ll end up with a hunchback,” or some variation of this saying, has been used by parents for generations to encourage proper posture. While it’s true that a hunched spine is common among the elderly, it’s not necessarily a punishment for rebelling against this sage advice. There are factors other than poor posture that can contribute to a pronounced curvature of the spine. Here are a few of the most common causes, presented by experienced Santa Monica spine surgeons.
Sometimes referred to as “brittle bone disease,” osteoporosis is characterized by the loss of bone strength. Osteoporosis of the spine can cause vertebra to shrink or become less stable over time, resulting in what appears to be a loss of height and a hunched appearance.
The normal age-related wear and tear of discs supporting the spine can result in significant instability. If degenerative disc disease is substantial, the spine may develop an abnormal curvature over time.
Wedge Compression Fractures
Wedge compression fractures result when the front part of a vertebra collapses and forms a wedge shape. The back portion of the vertebra is left intact, creating instability that pushes the spine forward into a hunch.
Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal that can be genetic or age-related. Often resulting in pressure on nerve roots, older people with the condition tend to lean forward to relieve this pressure when experiencing back pain.
Connective Tissue Disorders
Patients with connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome, are more susceptible to developing a hunched back. Weakened tissues may result in a less stable spine.
Hunchback (kyphosis) isn’t always noticeable. Mild forms of the condition can be characterized by stiffness and pain in the back. Treatments typically include the use of pain-relievers and bone-strengthening drugs. If the curvature is severe, spinal fusion may be recommended.
Learn more about the prevention and treatment of kyphosis by reaching out to the dedicated staff at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Our experienced board-certified spine surgeons in Santa Monica can discuss all possible outcomes and help you reclaim a pain-free life. Give our office a call at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation today.