Kyphosis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Taping Technique, Classification

Postural deformity of the upper back and neck is called Kyphosis. In this case, upper back appears curved in shape with shoulders rounded and protracted shoulder blades.

What is Kyphosis?

Postural deformity of the upper back and neck is called Kyphosis. Usually, the shape of the upper back is curved, shoulders are rounded, shoulder blades (scapula) are positioned away from the spine (protracted). Tucking in of the chin is absent and the chin pokes (protrudes) forward.


This deformity is common in all groups and genders. Baseball catchers and cyclists are more prone to get this deformity because they tend to remain in forward posture for prolonged period of time. Amateur bodybuilders are also at risk of developing this deformity as they tend to tighten the chest muscles (pectoralis major) and overdevelop the muscles during which upper back muscles are neglected completely.

Cervical posture syndrome is also known as upper crossed syndrome because of the muscle imbalances present in this posture. For instance, posterior neck muscles and pectoralis major muscles are tight, and deep flexors and upper back muscles are weak. When two weakened muscle groups and tight muscle groups are connected with straight lines, then they take a shape of “cross” and therefore it is called upper crossed syndrome.

Dowager’s Hump: Though kyphosis can occur at any age and in any age group, it is very common in old aged women and this deformity is called dowager’s hump. In most of the cases where kyphosis occurs due to old age, it is observed that bone weakening due to osteoporosis is the main cause. In this case, spine bones are weakened to an extent that they compress and crack. In some cases, both teens and infants are also affected by kyphosis.

In most of the cases where kyphosis is mild, there will not be many problems. On the other hand, in cases where kyphosis is severe, it can impact functioning of nerves, tissues, lungs, organs, etc., thereby leading to pain and other complications. Mainly, etiology of the curvature and age are the two important factors that determine the treatment modality.

What are the Symptoms of Kyphosis?

  • Worst pain with prolonged sitting or standing. More severe in forward leaning posture.
  • Aching and burning sensation in the neck and upper back.
  • Pain starts to ease with movement and disappears once muscles become active.
  • In some cases, there is pain with movement of the upper extremity.

What are the Causes of Kyphosis?

  • Shortening and tightening of the muscles of pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, neck and back.
  • Muscles of the neck and back are imbalanced.
  • Stretching and weakening of the muscles of latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius.
  • Jaw protrudes forward because sternocleidomastoid muscle becomes short and tightened.

Treatment for Kyphosis

Treatment for Kyphosis

  • Stretching techniques and massage therapy for the neck muscles, especially sternocleidomastoid muscle.
  • To reduce tension and pain in the muscles that are tight, massage for neck and upper back muscles is done.
  • Muscles of the back of the shoulders are stretched using stretching exercises.
  • Physical therapy is recommended in some cases to help regain normal range of motion.

Taping To Correct Upper Back Posture or Kyphosis

Taping will help in correcting the neck and upper back posture. Taping will also help in reducing neck pain using rehabilitation program.

If the taping technique is used in the early phase of rehabilitation program, chances of relieving stress and pain off the neck and back are high. However, long term usage of taping will lead to weakening of the muscles.

Guidelines mentioned below are for only information purposes and should not be tried individually without the assistance of a professional. Seeking professional advice before starting any rehabilitation program is mandatory.

What do you need For Taping Technique ?

A roll of non-elastic zinc oxide tape usually 3-4 cm (1.5 inch) in size.

In case, if there is hair on the back, shaving should be done to avoid discomfort at the time of removing the tape.

How is Taping Technique To Correct Kyphosis Done?

Posture should be erect, either in sitting or standing position, such that shoulders are in vertical position. Place one end of the strip of tape from bottom of neck, downwards of the back, and then gently pull the tape down while applying the tape.

In the same manner, place another end of the strip on the other side of neck.

The same process should be repeated from front side of the shoulder to the back in downward direction.

To complete the taping process, follow step number 3 on the other side of neck.

Pros and Cons of Taping Technique For Kyphosis:

  1. Helps in correction of posture.
  2. Helps in taking the strain off neck and upper back temporarily.
  3. Can be used for short term relief of pain.
  4. Long term usage of taping will result in weakening of the muscles.

Classification of Kyphosis:

The following are different types of Kyphosis as per ICD-10 codes:

  • Nutritional Kyphosis: Lack of proper nutrition or nutritional deficiencies is the main cause for nutritional kyphosis.
  • Scheuermann’s Kyphosis: This form of kyphosis is worse and can significantly affect different areas of T-spine (other spine areas are rarely affected). The severity of the pain differs from mild-to-moderate -to-high. This type of kyphosis is mostly seen in teenagers.
  • Gibbus Deformity: This is a type of structural kyphosis, a pathological condition resulting from tuberculosis.
  • Postural Kyphosis: This type of kyphosis is most common. Usually, this is related to slouching and can be found in old as well as young groups. Slouching is related to young age and hyperkyphosis or dowager’s hump is related to old age.
  • Post-traumatic Kyphosis: This occurs if the vertebrae are not treated properly or effectively.
  • Congenital Kyphosis: In infants sometimes spinal column will not develop completely in the mother’s womb then congenital kyphosis will occur. Studies revealed that vertebrae are fused or malformed and the deformity will continue to grow. There is a possibility of correcting this deformity along with regular follow-ups to consistently monitor the changes. Decision-making to perform this procedure is very difficult because of potential risks to the infant.

Articles On Other Postural Deformities:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 9, 2018

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