Your spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae. The picture of the spine shows the different regions of the spine, from the bottom (sacrum) to the top (cervical). People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the upper (thoracic) spine. When these bones break, they can cause pain, height loss and stooped or hunched posture, called kyphosis.

Kyphosis and Bone Breaks in the Spine

The bones in the spine are called vertebrae. When they break, they are called vertebral fractures or compression fractures. Breaking one or more bones in the spine can cause sharp back pain that does not go away, or there can be no pain at all. After having several of these breaks, people may start to have a curved spine and lose height. When there is no pain, many people do not know they have broken a bone in the spine. After becoming shorter by an inch or more in one year’s time, some people realize there is a problem with the spine. Because of height loss and changes in the spine, clothes may start to fit poorly.

The curve in the spine or the backbone that causes it to curve forward and look stopped or hunched is called kyphosis. As more bones break in the spine, the spine becomes more curved. When it is severe, kyphosis is sometimes called a dowager’s hump. Other conditions, besides broken bones in the spine, can also cause kyphosis.

For some people, kyphosis causes constant pain. This pain happens when the spine becomes more curved and the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the back are strained and stretched. Sometimes nerves are also pinched.

Severe kyphosis can reduce the space for internal organs. It may also cause the stomach or abdomen to push forward and appear to stick out. As a result, it is harder for some people to breathe or eat, and they may not get enough food and nutrition for their health.

Fortunately, people can take steps to protect the spine and prevent kyphosis.

Last Reviewed 08/07/2018

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