What is the difference between Kyphosis and Scoliosis?

There are three main types of spine curvature disorders, including:

  • Lordosis, which is also called a swayback. The spine of a person with lordosis curves significantly inward at the lower back. It is often associated with scoliosisor kyphosis.
  • Kyphosis is another type of abnormal curvature and is characterized by an abnormally rounded upper back (more than 50 degrees of curvature) in the coronal plane.
  • Scoliosis is the third type, as is characterised by a curvature of the spine in the sagittal plane (sideways).

These abnormal curvatures can be caused either by hereditary or developmental factors (metabolic, habitual postures, lack of exercise, lack of nutrients etc).


When it comes to scoliosis, there are over 80 types of scoliosis, and some causes are unknown (idiopathic).

Some of the most common scoliosis types include:

  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis – scoliosis without a known cause that affects people in their teenage years.
  • Congenital scoliosis – which appears as a result of a birth defect.
  • Degenerative scoliosis – caused by degenerative changes in the spine.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis.
  • Injury-induced scoliosis.

Regardless of the type, scoliosis (as well as kyphosis) can vary in severity, from mild to severe. Scoliosis of between 10° and 20° is called mild.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Scoliosis can cause pain and stiffness in the back. It becomes worse when changing position, as stresses and strains are altered, so the tendency for the patient is to lie down for relief as the body pressure on the spine is lower by 25% when lying down on the back with knees bent.

The spine is weaker with a scoliotic curve, and the balance of spinal fluids can change considerably (causing homeostatic osmosis in the cerebrospinal fluid). This results in general fatigue, depression, exhaustion, stress, headaches, irritability and sometimes even organ dysfunctions.

The deformity may also cause a side-to-side imbalance in the hips, which may alter a person’s gait, or even lead to Short Leg Syndrome.


Kyphosis is a spinal deformity that causes the spine to curve in an outward manner. It tends to affect the thoracic and cervical spine the most, and can be divided into 5 main types:

  • Postural Kyphosis, caused by poor postural habits.
  • Congenital Kyphosis, that is caused by a birth defect.
  • Developmental Kyphosis, where the spine does not develop properly due to a lack of nutrients.
  • Scheuermann’s Kyphosis, a spinal condition where the vertebrae of the spine form in a wedge shape, causing the spinal curve to be deformed.
  • Injury-induced Kyphosis.

Symptoms of Kyphosis

Kyphosis may not always cause any symptoms, especially in milder cases, and as such can go unnoticed for long periods of time. However, some people may experience:

  • A changed appearance of the spine, where there is a visible deformity, causing a hunched upper back.
  • Pain, stiffness, and mobility issues related both to spinal mobility, as well as walking.
  • Sometimes breathing problems may occur.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Scoliosis and Kyphosis

To diagnose either deformity, the produce starts with the doctor taking a history and performing a physical examination to check for any physical abnormalities in the spinal curvature. Sometimes further (imaging) tests may be required to accurately diagnose these conditions.

Although they don’t always impact a person’s quality of life, it is best to address them in their early stages to prevent them from getting worse. Both disorders can be addressed through non-invasive conservative treatments when they are in a milder form.

Adult scoliosis with curvatures up to 40 degrees can be treated non-surgically but the condition should be arrested as soon as possible by non-surgical treatment. It can be treated through spinal mobilisation and physical therapy, making the condition asymptomatic through a specific set of spinal exercises which will strengthen the underdeveloped group of muscles.

Specific exercises (all of which are carried out while lying down) will cause further growth in the musculoskeletal system that will balance the scoliosis. The main purpose of mobilisation is to re-align the spinal column joints as much as possible and to decompress the nerve roots and soft tissues.

The symptoms of kyphosis are oftentimes addressed in the same manner, but some people who suffer from kyphosis may have to wear a back brace to try and correct the spinal curvature, especially if it occurs early in life.

However, an effective treatment that helps alleviate the symptoms of both conditions is to use a spinal decompression device to remove some of the tension that has been placed onto the spine due to the structural changes that are present.

Can Backrack Help?

The symptoms that come with scoliosis (general fatigue, depression, exhaustion, stress, headaches, irritability, and organ dysfunctions) can be helped with the use of the Backrack System and carrying out the instructed exercises to maintain the situation from getting any worse. Backrack needs to be part of a healthy lifestyle in order to treat symptoms. It cannot fix a curvature as this is a bone deformity. However, it can stop things from getting worse as a preventative method and will not make any existing problems worse.
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