kyphosis posture x-ray
kyphosis posture image

What is Kyphosis?

Kyphosis definition:

Kyphosis is a postural deviation characterized by an excessive curvature of the thoracic spine, resulting in a rounded upper back.

Other terms for kyphosis include: hunchback, humpback, dowager's hump, roundback, and forward curvature of the spine. The term is also known as hyperkyphosis, since the natural curve of the thoracic spine is flexed, or kyphotic. Thoracic kyphosis often accompanies forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and sway back posture where the hips are forward of the ankles and upper back.

The excessive flexion or rounding to the curve of the spine is most commonly referring to the thoracic spine region but the term kyphosis can be used to describe the lumbar or cervical spine.


Shortened muscles often include the thoracic internal intercostalis, serratus posterior inferior, rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, transverse abdominis, psoas major, and quadratus lumborum.

Lengthened muscles will usually include the erector spinae (spinalis cervicis and spinalis thoracis), longissimus, iliocostalis, multifidi, rotatores, semispinalis capitis, levator scapula, latissimus dorsi, rhomboid major, serratus anterior.

For more shoulder muscles, see rounded shoulders.

Since many muscles and their attachments extend upwards to the cervical spine and head, as well as below to the lumbar spine, lumbodorsal fascia, and pelvis, the relative positions of these other areas affect true muscle lengths.

Common Issues:

Tightness in chest muscles, weak upper back muscles, upper back pain, lower back pain, neck pain, breathing difficulties, reduced spine mobility, muscle spasms, lumbar spine issues, degenerative disc disease, arthritic spine, reduced shoulder mobility, rotator cuff injury, thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), headaches, jaw pain, tinnitus, hip pain, knee pain, digestion problems, acid reflux, and more.

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