Kyphoscoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine in both the lateral — scoliosis — and forward — kyphosis — directions. It results in a complex three-dimensional shape, leading to a noticeable rounding or hunching of the back.

Kyphoscoliosis is a complex spinal disorder. A person with kyphoscoliosis has an excessive forward curvature of the upper spine and scoliosis, an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine.

Developmental abnormalities, neuromuscular conditions, connective tissue disorders, and other factors may cause kyphoscoliosis.

The condition varies in severity and may significantly impact an individual’s posture, mobility, and overall quality of life. Therefore, early diagnosis, appropriate management, and multidisciplinary care are essential in addressing symptoms, preventing progression, and optimizing treatment outcomes.

This article examines kyphoscoliosis, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments. It also answers some frequently asked questions on the topic.

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Symptoms may vary in children and adults, although typically, the primary sign of kyphoscoliosis is a hunched or rounded back.

More severe instances of it can also affect the lungs, nerves, and other organs.


Symptoms in children can include:

  • uneven shoulders or hips
  • a prominence of part of the spine or shoulder blades
  • an uneven waist
  • arms or legs longer on one side
  • gait changes

Older people

Older individuals may also experience the following:

  • back pain
  • concerns about spinal appearance
  • progressively worsening respiratory function
  • weakness or paralysis
  • stiffness
  • fatigue
  • neurological issues

Kyphoscoliosis has various causes, many of which are idiopathic, or unknown. They may include:

  • Congenital: Some individuals are born with kyphoscoliosis due to congenital anomalies affecting spinal development. These abnormalities include:
    • vertebrae malformation, or an atypical shape or structure to the bones that make up the spine
    • spinal fusion defects, where bones in the spine have not separated as they should
    • atypical growth patterns
  • Osteochondrodysplasia: This condition affects the growth of spinal bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
  • Neuromuscular conditions: Conditions, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or spinal muscular atrophy, can contribute to the development of kyphoscoliosis. The following characteristics associated with these conditions can affect spinal curvature:
    • muscle weakness
    • muscle imbalance
    • abnormal musculature
  • Connective tissue disorders: Disorders, such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, can affect the structure and strength of the connective tissues supporting the spine.
  • Traumatic or secondary causes: Kyphoscoliosis can also occur due to trauma, or injury, or as a secondary effect of other conditions or interventions.

Treatment for kyphoscoliosis aims to manage symptoms, prevent further progression of the spinal curvature, and improve a person’s overall quality of life. The choice of treatment depends on certain factors, including:

  • associated symptoms
  • the severity of the deformity
  • the age of the individual
  • the underlying cause

Here are some common treatment approaches for kyphoscoliosis:

Observation and monitoring

For people with mild cases of kyphoscoliosis where the curvature does not cause significant issues or limitations, doctors may recommend periodic checkups and imaging tests to track the condition’s progression. Doctors will intervene if necessary.

Physical therapy and exercise

Physical therapy is essential in managing kyphoscoliosis. A physical therapist can provide individualized treatment plans and guidance on maintaining proper body mechanics. Exercises and stretches can help:

  • improve posture
  • strengthen the muscles supporting the spine
  • increase flexibility


For individuals with moderate kyphoscoliosis or those still growing, a brace may help slow or prevent the progression of the spinal curvature. Orthopedic braces are custom-fitted devices that a person wears during the day and sometimes while sleeping.


People with severe cases of kyphoscoliosis that significantly affect their daily functioning and cause pain may require surgical intervention. Surgical procedures may involve spinal fusion, where a surgeon fuses vertebrae using bone grafts, implants, and devices.

Generally, surgery aims to:

  • correct the spinal curvature
  • stabilize the spine
  • relieve pressure on surrounding structures

Severe spinal deformities may require correcting by a surgeon with special expertise in the field. Various methods, including robotic-assisted surgery, can help assist with the correction.

Pain management

Medications, such as nerve blocks, can help alleviate discomfort and improve a person’s overall well-being.

The outlook for individuals with kyphoscoliosis can vary depending on the following:

  • the severity of the spinal curvature
  • the underlying cause
  • overall health status
  • effectiveness of treatment

While some individuals may experience challenges related to the physical limitations or pain associated with kyphoscoliosis, comprehensive care and support can significantly enhance their well-being.

With appropriate management and support, many individuals with kyphoscoliosis can lead fulfilling lives and maintain functional independence.

What is the life expectancy for someone with kyphoscoliosis?

The life expectancy of individuals with kyphoscoliosis can depend on the cause and associated complications, if any.

For individuals without significant complications, life expectancy may be average. However, underlying conditions, such as neuromuscular or connective tissue disorders, may affect their overall health and life expectancy differently.

Kyphoscoliosis has the potential to cause respiratory complications. Severe curvature of the spine may restrict lung expansion, leading to reduced function and respiratory difficulties. Reduced respiratory function may affect life expectancy.

Below are some commonly asked questions on kyphoscoliosis:

What is the difference between scoliosis and kyphoscoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spinal condition characterized by an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. It typically involves a single curve, resulting in a C-shaped or S-shaped appearance.

Conversely, kyphoscoliosis is a combination of scoliosis and kyphosis, involving both the abnormal sideways curvature and excessive forward curvature of the spine.

How serious is kyphoscoliosis?

The seriousness of kyphoscoliosis may depend on the severity of the curvature, associated symptoms, and underlying causes.

People with mild cases of kyphoscoliosis may not experience significant health issues. In contrast, more severe cases can significantly impact an individual’s physical functioning, respiratory function, and quality of life.

Is there a cure for kyphoscoliosis?

While there is no known cure for kyphoscoliosis, various treatment approaches can help manage the condition and improve outcomes.

Kyphoscoliosis is a complex spinal deformity characterized by abnormal sideways curvature — scoliosis — and excessive forward curvature — kyphosis — of the spine.

Treatment approaches may include physical therapy, bracing, and in severe instances, surgery. These interventions aim to improve posture, enhance mobility, and alleviate pain. Regular monitoring and follow-up and multidisciplinary care are essential to optimize treatment outcomes and address associated complications.

Early detection and appropriate management are crucial to preventing further progression, alleviating symptoms, and improving a person’s quality of life.