Curving, Rounding and Fractures

A spinal deformity causes your spine to curve more than is normal because your vertebrae are partially formed or misshapen, fused together or missing.

There are three main types of spinal deformity:

  • Scoliosis – curvature of the spine
  • Kyphosis – abnormally rounded back
  • Spondylolysis – a stress fracture in one or more vertebrae in your lower back

The cause of a spinal deformity is not always known. The condition may begin before birth if the vertebrae do not develop correctly. It may also be caused by repeated trauma, injury or illness.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of a spinal deformity vary according to the type and severity of your condition. Common symptoms include:

  • Uneven shoulder heights
  • Uneven waistline
  • Tilted pelvis
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hunched or rounded back
  • Back pain
  • Trouble walking or keeping your balance
  • Tingling or numbness in arms or legs
  • Inability to stand up straight or other changes in posture

A physical exam can often detect a spinal deformity. Other testing may include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Bone density test

Many spinal deformities can be treated with bracing, casting and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be required to improve your spine’s alignment.

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Advanced Expertise, Expert Care

The team of neurology experts at Penn State Health provides the most advanced care available in the region. Our fellowship-trained team is consistently recognized nationally through Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors awards. Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements in countries including India, Korea, Germany, Japan and others.

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