Hypokyphosis is defined as the loss of some or all of the normal curvature in the thoracic or sacrococcygeal regions of the spine. Hypokyphotic change is the diametric opposite diagnosis of the more common hyperkyphosis.
Patients who demonstrate a reduced kyphotic curve in the thoracic region will visually express a straight spine condition to one degree or another.
Although implicated in many pain syndromes as a source of symptoms, most kyphotic curvature losses are a result of another causative process and not the actual cause of pain themselves. In effect, the loss of kyphosis is a usually symptom of a greater process, not a primary explanation for upper back pain. This is not a rule, but does describe many instances in which transitory kyphotic change is enacted by muscular spasm and interactions.
This treatise details decreased kyphosis in the human vertebral column as an atypical diagnostic finding and the collateral effects of this deficient curvature on spinal function.
What is Hypokyphosis?
This condition is described as a decrease or loss of normal spinal curvature in the thoracic region of the back. The thoracic spine typically maintains a kyphotic curve with the open end of the curvature facing the anterior plane of the body. This curve helps to the support the torso and distributes force and stress throughout the spinal structures.
When the thoracic curvature is decreased, some care providers focus on the region as the source of pain. However, in many cases, the kyphotic curve is decreased due to back muscle spasm resulting from some other causative condition, such as a severe upper back injury or even regional ischemia. When that condition is identified and treated, the abnormal kyphosis will often return immediately to normal.
Reduced Kyphosis Facts
A decrease in normal kyphotic curvature can occur due to a spinal or soft tissue injury, a congenital condition or other developed disorder due to posture or nutrition.
Minor to moderate loss of kyphotic curvature is rarely a real concern for any patients and most diagnoses blaming it as the primary symptomatic health issue lead to a series of failed treatments and sometimes even a failed back surgery.
It should be noted that hypokyphotic changes can also be diagnosed in the lowest area of the spine, called the sacrococcygeal region. This may result in a more prominent than usual coccyx, which may be prone to injury.
Loss of kyphosis is far less common than the loss of lumbar lordosis or cervical lordosis. This makes sense given the construction of the spine. Remember that the thoracic kyphotic curvature is congenital and is there from the time we develop as fetuses. The thoracic spine is also not prone to injury or degeneration like the upper and lower regions which endure a loss of curvature as a usual occurrence in virtually any chronic back pain condition.
If your symptoms have been blamed on a decreased thoracic kyphosis, but you have found no relief from various treatments, it may be time to to reconsider the validity of the diagnostic conclusion. This is especially true if the decreased curve is mild to moderate, but may still be valid unless the lost curvature is complete or at least very drastic. In these extreme cases, the diagnosis may be correct and treatment efficacy may be challenging, regardless of the modalities utilized.