Last reviewed 01/2018

Kyphosis is a flexed curvature of the spine in a sagittal plane, as is present normally in the thoracic and sacral regions. However, the term has come to mean a pathological excessive curvature in this direction.

A postural kyphosis is common. This condition is known as a 'round back' or 'drooping shoulders'. A postural kyphosis may be associated with other postural defects such as flat feet. This condition is voluntarily correctable.

A kyphosis is described as structural if it is fixed and is associated with changes in the shape of vertebrae. This condition may occur in osteoporosis of the spine, Paget's disease, adolescent kyphosis - Scheuermann's disease - and ankylosing spondylitis.

Kyphosis most commonly affects the thoracic spine. An abrupt alteration in the normally smooth thoracic curvature is called angular kyphosis.