The spine normally has 3 major curves when viewed from the side. The neck, or cervical spine, curves gently backwards. The thoracic spine, or chest region, curves gently forward. The lumbar spine, or low back. again curves gently backwards. The forward curvature is referred to as kyphosis. The backwards curvature is referred to as lordosis. The combination of these curves results in spinal balance. Here, the weight of the body is centered over the pelvis. The body's weight is supported maximally by the bones, ligaments and discs of the spine. When a section of the spine is kyphotic, or bent forward, spinal balance is lost. The center of gravity is in front of the pelvis. It is necessary to use muscles to continually hold the body erect.
Causes of Kyphosis Of The Spine
The two primary abnormalities that produce pathological fractures include weakness of the bones and destruction of the bones. Weakness comes from altered metabolism of calcium, vitamin D and parathyroid hormone. Destruction of the bone comes from tumors and infections. Due to the majority of the weight being supported by the front of the spine, these fractures often collapse the vertebral column producing a kyphotic deformity.
Signs and Symptoms of Kyphosis Of The Spine
Pain and swelling are the hallmarks of fractures. If a bone can no longer mechanically support the muscles which are attached to it, the function of that portion of the body may be limited. The vertebral bodies are common sites for pathological fractures to occur. Here, deformity of the spine may develop. Loss of height is seen. If the damaged bones impact the nervous system, they can lead to weakness, numbness and paralysis. When the vertebral bodies collapse, the spine may become deformed and angled forward. This produces a condition referred to as kyphosis. The deformity causes increased stress on the already damaged spine that can further increase the degree of kyphosis. A gibbus, or prominence of the spine, may be felt where the kyphosis occurs.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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