Scoliosis and Kyphosis are both terms to describe the shape of the spine and usually (but not always) of the thoracic spine (mid back).
Kyphosis is the curve that describes the rounding of the back with the spine rounding outwards (hunching) and is the oppposite of a lordosis which is arching of the spine (bending inwards) and this is usually described at in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) spine. A certain amount of kyphosis in your thoracic spine is normal - your spine is not perfectly straight and the forward and backward curves help to take all the load the spine carries. Too much kyphosis can be postural, and can be corrected with exercises, or it can structural, which can be changed through exercises. The two most common causes of structural kyphosis are schuermann's disease and osteoporosis. Schueramann's presents in early adolescence and effects the vertebral endplates causes a change in shape of the vertebrae, there is often a postural element with scheurmann's which if picked up and managed early, may limited the effect of scheurmanns. Osteoporosis is generally seen in the aging population and more commonly in women and can cause compression fractures of the spine, usually the thoracic spine which results in wedging of the vertebra and kyphosis. There is a critcal window during adolescence in which to lay down your lifetime bone mass, so by ensuring adequate amounts of calcium, weight bearing exercise and maintianing a healthy body weight during adolescence is very important in preventing osteoporosis.
Scoliosis is a combination of a sideways curve (lateral) and of rotation of the spine. Scoliosis commonly occurs during early adolescents and is idiopathic in nature, which simply means we do not understand we it occurs in some adolescents and not others. Very simple screening checks can be done by your healthcare practitioner - if identified early, treatment can be started early and a monitoring program can also be started. Most teenagers with scoloisis are simply monitored closely, especially around growth spurts and maybe given some postural exercises to help, but unfortunately, a few teenagers have a significant scoliosis which requires bracing and sometimes bracing. The results are generally quite good from bracing and surgery but quite a lot of rehabilitation will be needed along with both of this treatments.
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