Older Adults: Here's What Causes Hunchback – and How to Prevent It

Originally published on MSN:

Kyphosis, a painful condition commonly known as "hunchback" is a physical deformation of the middle and upper spine, in which its natural curve increases, resulting in a "hunched over" posture.

While the postural issue used to be a problem largely reserved for older women, in recent decades, kyphosis has become a significant health problem for older men and women alike, says Dr. Alpesh Patel, director of orthopaedic spine surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"Twenty years ago, when I was in medical school, no one ever thought about it," he says. Kyphosis now affects between 20 and 40 percent of adults, with both prevalence and severity increasing through the decades, according to a 2015 study published in the scientific journal Neurosurgery. The effects of kyphosis range from decreased mobility to pain and disability to impaired lung function and even increased mortality, according to the study's findings.

So why is kyphosis becoming increasingly common? In a word: weakness.

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