Kyphosis is how we label or we describe the curve in thoracic spine. So we have three curves throughout our spine. We have our cervical or our neck, thoracic, or lumbar. So the thoracic’s the mid back and the lumbar is the low back. So we have three curves that work in conjunction with one another. We have a reverse C curve throughout the neck region and then the curve goes the other way and then another reverse C curve in the low back. So in a perfect world, ideally, we should have some symmetry or balance where our sacrum or our tailbone sits somewhat directly underneath our skull and the three curves will allow us to do that.
The reason I want to talk about kyphosis is that in this day of age, many of us have very forward postures. When I talk about that is that we are doing things in front of us. Many of us first thing we do is when we get up, we go to our breakfast table. We have breakfast, head is down. We’re in a flexed position. We get in our cars, once again, flex position. Then you know what’s next, we’re at our office for eight hours a day in front of a computer with our arms in an outreach position. Our head is in a flexed position, staring at some form of device or computer. As I sit there, okay, gravity starts to work against me and as gravity starts to work against me, I am going to increase flexion, bending in that mid to upper back area. So that’s kyphosis, that’s the kyphotic curve in our mid thoracic.
So the real question is, what can you do for this? We spoke that it’s a very common occurrence. It can be managed with conservative care. So obviously chiropractic would be a good first line of defense or a good first option for you. Chiropractic is very effective to increase joint mobility, reestablish proper alignment, reduce inflammation. Physical therapy. Obviously, if I’m in a fixed position, we want to work on extension or flexed, we want to work on extension. So simple mobility exercises that would increase extension.
I think it’s also important to focus on the stability. How do we strengthen and stabilize different types of areas? I think the rhomboids, the muscles that run between the shoulder blades, there needs to be some strength and stability there to get the shoulder blades approximated, get your chest opened up. Deep tissue massage, another great option. So if we’re very fixed or forward, the pec major and minor, our chest muscles can become very contracted or tight. Massage therapy is a great option to break up those adhesions to get you moving.
But I will tell you, the most important thing that you can do if you’ve been diagnosed with increased kyphosis or that flexed position, make some changes day to day. What are your work environment set up? What is it like? Do you look at a computer all day long? Could you get a standing desk? Could we start addressing this more in the gym or just simple Pilates, or yoga to work on increased flexibility? Can you get up more throughout the day? Get up and move around to interrupt your sitting.
There’s a host of things that can be done through our provider’s office, but I think first line of defense needs to start with you. Make changes at your office, make changes day to day. That’s going to be the most important thing. So let’s remember if you are diagnosed with increased kyphosis, not the end of the world. Let’s make some changes throughout the day. If things aren’t improving, get in to see your provider, develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Like we always stay here at Tulsa Spine and Rehab, keep moving.