Spinal Deformity (Kyphosis, Lordosis, Scoliosis)


Spinal deformity describes several types of unnatural curvatures of the spine, of which kyphosis, lordosis and scoliosis are the three most common.

Kyphosis can refer to the normal outward curvature of the spine, but it is frequently used to describe excessive outward curvature (also called Kelso’s hunchback). This can be caused by a number of conditions, including arthritis, osteoporosis, Scheuermann’s disease or trauma.

Lordosis (also called swayback) occurs when the spine is curved inward. This may be caused by strength imbalances in the body, achondroplasia (in which bones grow abnormally), Spondylolisthesis (in which vertebrae slip forward) and osteoporosis.

Scoliosis occurs when the spine is twisted from side to side. The spine may also be rotated out of normal alignment. On an X-ray the spine may resemble the letter C or the letter S. Scoliosis can be caused by a number of conditions, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy and trauma.

Treating Spinal Deformity
Mild forms of spinal deformity may require no treatment at all. Even significant distortions can be painless and present few mobility problems. Other deformities may pose more serious problems and inflict greater pain on the patient.

Exercise and physical therapy may be the best way to strengthen and increase the flexibility of the muscles of the back, core and legs to better support the spine. Alternatively, braces may be used to hold the spine in place to aid in mobility and help prevent further distortion. For certain patients, surgery may be the best option. Some forms of surgery can help to repair the deformity and limit the pain associated with it. At Houston Methodist Hospital a multidisciplinary team works together to ensure the best possible treatment for patients with spinal deformities.