Kyphosis: Definition and What it is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Kyphosis Definition and Meaning

Kyphosis refers to a spinal condition that results in an outward curvature of the upper back and spine, causing a hunched-back posture. Kyphosis can affect people of any age and can result from developmental issues, degenerative diseases, osteoporosis, or injuries.

Kyphosis Symptoms

The primary symptom of kyphosis is a visible curve in the upper back, often accompanied by back pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may include muscle weakness and balance issues. In extreme cases, kyphosis can cause nerve compression, leading to numbness or weakness in the legs, and compression of the lungs, which can impact breathing.

Kyphosis: A Hinge Health Perspective

It can be worrisome or discouraging to experience changes in your spine and back, particularly those that change its appearance. But remember: The spine is an incredibly strong structure that is responsible for supporting the entire body as well as so many movements that allow us to stand up straight, bend, and twist. The spine is very resilient, even to age-related changes that naturally occur to the discs between vertebrae. 

Physical therapy, which includes targeted back strengthening and stretching exercises, can help manage kyphosis symptoms and help you maintain good spine health.

Kyphosis Treatment

Treatment for kyphosis varies based on the severity and causes of the back’s curvature, but common treatment options include: physical therapy to strengthen and stretch back muscles and improve posture, over-the-counter and prescription medications, bracing (usually recommended for children), and, in severe cases, surgery to correct the curvature and alleviate symptoms.

How Physical Therapy Can Help With Kyphosis

Physical therapy can aid in managing kyphosis, especially in its early stages. A physical therapist (PT) can design exercises to strengthen the back muscles, improve posture, and increase spinal flexibility. This approach is often effective in reducing pain. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Kyphosis. (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Retrieved from

  2. Miller, J., Oakley, P. A., Levin, S. B., & Harrison, D. E. (2017). Reversing thoracic hyperkyphosis: a case report featuring mirror image thoracic extension rehabilitation. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(7), 1264–1267. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1264

  3. Thoracic Hyperkyphosis. (n.d.). Physio-pedia. Retrieved from

Related Terms