Your health care provider will generally conduct a thorough physical examination, including checking your height. You may be asked to bend forward from the waist while the provider views your spine from the side. You may also undergo a neurological exam to check your reflexes and muscle strength.
Tests that may be ordered include:
- X-rays or CT scans. X-rays can determine the degree of curvature and detect deformities of the vertebrae. A CT scan might be recommended if your doctor wants more-detailed images.
- MRI. Using radio waves and a strong magnetic field, MRIs can detect infection or a tumor in your spine.
- Nerve tests. If you are experiencing numbness or muscle weakness, you may need tests to determine how well nerve impulses are traveling between your spinal cord and your extremities.
- Bone density tests. Low-density bone can worsen kyphosis and often can be improved with medications.
Kyphosis treatment depends on the cause and severity of your condition.
Kyphosis treatment may include:
- Pain relievers. If over-the-counter medicines — such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) — aren't enough, stronger pain medications are available by prescription.
- Osteoporosis medications. Bone-strengthening medications may help prevent additional spinal fractures that would worsen your kyphosis.
Certain types of kyphosis may be helped by:
- Exercises. Stretching and strengthening exercises may help improve spinal flexibility and relieve back pain.
- Bracing. Children who have Scheuermann's disease may be able to stop the progression of kyphosis by wearing a spine brace while their bones are still growing.
Surgical and other procedures
Rarely, severe kyphosis can pinch the spinal cord or nerve roots. To correct this, surgery may be needed. The most common procedure is spinal fusion, where the surgeon uses metal rods and screws to fasten the spinal bones together in the correct position.
Compression fractures are usually treated without surgery.
Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition.
Preparing for your appointment
You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of spine disorders.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as restricting your diet.
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
- Ask a relative or friend to accompany you to help you remember what the doctor says.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What tests do I need? Is there any special preparation for them?
- Will I need treatment? What are my options, and what are the benefits and risks of each?
- I have other health problems. How can I best manage these conditions together?
In addition to the questions you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may leave time to go over other points in greater detail. You may be asked:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms? How severe are they?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- What, if anything, seems to improve or worsen your symptoms?
Kyphosis care at Mayo Clinic
June 18, 2022
- Kado DM. Hyperkyphosis in older persons. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 23, 2022.
- Kyphosis (roundback) of the spine. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/kyphosis-roundback-of-the-spine. Accessed March 23, 2022.
- Frontera WR, et al., eds. Scoliosis and kyphosis. In: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 23, 2022.
- Azar FM, et al. Scoliosis and kyphosis. In: Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 23, 2022.
- Larson AN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. April 7, 2022.
- Ami TR. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. March 17, 2022.