Kyphosis is an abnormal forward curvature of the upper spine that results in a visibly hunched back, and it's quite common in seniors who have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when you lose bone mass, and it makes all of the bones in your body more likely to fracture, including the vertebrae in your spine. When you have severe osteoporosis, even simple movements like bending over can cause one of your vertebra to fracture, and this causes it to collapse inwards. Your spine curves forwards as the vertebra collapses, eventually resulting in kyphosis.
Kyphosis can cause chronic pain and significantly affect your quality of life. One way that kyphosis can be treated is through spine deformity surgery, in which your spine is straightened and adjacent vertebrae are fused together by grafting bone onto them to connect them. Fusing vertebrae together adds stability and prevents them from shifting out of position further, which keeps your spine straight. Successful spine deformity surgery can restore your spine's normal curve and get rid of your hunched back. Like any surgery, however, it has risks associated with it. If you have kyphosis and are wondering if you should get surgery to correct it, read on for some considerations that can help you make your decision.
How Are Your Daily Pain Levels?
Severe kyphosis can place pressure on the nerves in your spinal cord, which can cause severe pain. Kyphosis can also cause muscle pain as well. The posture that kyphosis naturally forces you into places extra strain on your back muscles, which can strain them. If your kyphosis is causing you significant amounts of pain that can't be controlled with pain medication or physical therapy, then spine deformity surgery can be a good option to relieve it.
Are You Having Trouble Breathing or Eating?
When the curve of your upper spine is pushed forwards, it starts to constrict the organs in your chest. Your lungs may not be able to expand fully when you breathe, leaving you feeling short of breath frequently. Similarly, your stomach can also become constricted. This can cause eating to become painful and may lead to you not being able to eat enough food to stay healthy. Spine deformity surgery can give your organs the amount of space that they need to function correctly.
Is Your Kyphosis Affecting Your Daily Life?
Kyphosis can result in losing several inches of height as your upper spine collapses inwards. This makes some activities extremely difficult. Driving, for example, can become impossible due to your posture making it very hard to see over the steering wheel. If kyphosis is preventing you from performing daily activities, then spine deformity surgery can be a good option to restore your quality of life.
Is Your Kyphosis Worsening?
Finally, surgery can be a good option if your kyphosis is slowly worsening. This happens often in people who have osteoporosis, as the continued fractures in the vertebrae will make the forward curvature worse. By fusing adjacent vertebrae together to prevent their movement, you can stop kyphosis from progressing.
If you're healthy enough for surgery and your kyphosis is significantly affecting your quality of life or causing you severe pain, then spine deformity surgery is often the best option. Restoring the normal curve of your spine and preventing it from sliding back forward by fusing your vertebrae together can help relieve pain from compressed nerves, and it can also help you breathe better. If you think that you're a good candidate for spine deformity surgery, contact an orthopedic surgeon in your area and schedule a consultation. They'll be able to help you balance the quality of life improvements versus the potential risks and recovery time of surgery, aiding you in making the best decision for your health.