Hyperkyphosis is a curve increase in your upper back as you age. At birth your spine is more like a C curve. As you lift your head and learn to move you develop what are called secondary curves or Lordosis in your neck and low back. Your spine keeps the curve out at your ribs and your butt. This is called Kyphosis. These natural curves allow your spine to be stronger (distributing and absorbing stress) and provide flexibility and balance at the same time. Unfortunately, many people develop an imbalance in one or more of these curves, leading to issues such as pain, compromised respiration and more. Common postural imbalances are increased Kyphosis (hunched upper back) or lumbar Lordosis (swayed lower back)
It has been my experience that the more forward someone’s head is the more likely they are to have neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, low back pain, and more. Your head weighs on average about 12-15 lbs, so when your head shifts forward (imbalanced posture) the stress to your muscles increases incrementally. One inch forward creates up to 20 lbs. of pressure, two inches = thirty lbs of pressure, and so on. Your muscles were designed to easily handle 12-15 lbs., not 30 – 40, or even 50 lbs. of pressure. This increased pressure = pain and dysfunction.
It is common to see people develop increased curves in their upper back as they age. Technically this termed Hyperkyphosis and commonly called Dowager’s Hump, Humpback, Round back or Hunchback. Aside from personal appearance there are typical symptoms related to this issue, including height loss, back pain, inability to stand straight up that worsens as the day passes, and fatigue. It is tiring to fight falling forward all day long! As this curvature progresses it can lead to serious health issues such as difficulty breath (due to lung compression) and even loss of appetite due to compression on the GI system. We will look at potential causes in our blog part 2.