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Kyphosis Factsheet (for Schools)

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What Teachers Should Know

Kyphosis is a curvature of the spine in the upper and middle part of the back.

Mild kyphosis usually isn't visible, doesn't cause any other problems, and doesn't need medical treatment. Larger curves look like a hunched back or poor posture. The curvature can be painful. In severe cases, it might cause problems with breathing or weakness or numbness in the legs.

Kids and teens with severe kyphosis often need back braces and physical therapy. A few might need surgery. Those who do have surgery usually can resume an active lifestyle after treatment.

Students with kyphosis might:

  • feel embarrassed about wearing a back brace to school
  • miss a lot of class time if they need surgery (up to a month)
  • need extra time to complete assignments and make up tests
  • benefit from having a 504 education plan that calls for seating accommodations and extra time getting to and from classes
  • need to visit the school nurse for pain medicine or brace adjustments
  • need to be excused from or accommodated for physical education and sports
  • be at risk for bullying

What Teachers Can Do

Kyphosis does not affect students' ability to learn, but it can affect the quality of their lives. Wearing a back brace to school or having physical limitations can make students feel self-conscious.

You can support them by encouraging their participation in the activities they can do and being understanding about any pain or fatigue they might feel in the classroom.

Date reviewed: January 2019