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Kyphosis can be divided into three ages of acquisition—birth, old age, and the time in between.

  • Spinal birth defects can result in a fixed, exaggerated curve. Vertebrae can be fused together, shaped wrong, extraneous, or partially missing. Congenital and hereditary defects in bone growth weaken bone and result in exaggerated curves wherever gravity or muscles pull on them. Dwarfism is such a defect.
  • During life, several events can distort the spine. Because the natural tendency of the thoracic spine is to curve forward, any weakness of the supporting structures will tend in that direction. A diseased thoracic vertebra (a spine bone) will ordinarily crumble its forward edge first, increasing the kyphotic curve. Conditions that can do this include cancer, tuberculosis, Scheuermann's disease, and certain kinds of arthritis. Healthy vertebra will fracture forward with rapid deceleration injuries, such as in car crashes when the victim is not wearing a seat belt.
  • Later in life, kyphosis is caused from osteoporosis, bone weakness, and crumbling forward.

The stress caused by kyphosis produces such symptoms as an increase in musculoskeletal pains, tension headaches, back aches, and joint pains.

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