By | June 8, 2022

Back pain is a widespread disease – almost every fourth German suffers from back pain on a regular basis. One reason for this can be the so-called hunched back, i.e. a backwards curved back, which is particularly widespread in industrialized nations.

What is a hunchback?

The hunchback, referred to in medicine as hyperkyphosis, which derives from the Greek “kyphos” for “hump” and “hyper” for “over”, describes an extreme backward curvature of the spine. For everything about meniscus injuries, please visit

A kyphosis in the area of ​​the thoracic vertebra and a smaller one at the level of the coccyx (sacral kyphosis) are completely normal and natural.

Only when there is an extreme bulge, which is clearly visible when standing upright, is there a rounded back, which is then referred to as “hyperkyphosis”.

A distinction is made between congenital rounded backs and those that only develop after birth.

In the long term, hyperkyphosis can also lead to organ damage and psychological stress.


The main cause of hunchback is a lack of movement combined with improper or unnatural posture when sitting, standing or walking.

These incorrect postures and the muscles that are often too weak mean that they are no longer able to ensure a correct, upright posture. As a consequence, the vertebral vibrations can collapse and gradually curve the back.

If these faulty conditions persist for a long period of time without counteracting muscle building or a more active lifestyle, this inevitably leads to the development of a hunchback.

In older people, a vertebral fracture, which can be caused by osteoporosis, for example, can also be the cause of a rounded back. Degenerative diseases such as arthritis can also lead to the development of a rounded back.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Round back can be associated with many symptoms. Depending on the degree of severity, these are not only symptoms in the area of ​​the bony structures, but also in the area of ​​the internal organs. The clearest sign of a hunchback is, of course, the arching of the upper back beyond normal. The kyphosis that the thoracic spine normally has is far more pronounced than is physiological.

This is not only clearly visible from the side, but also from the front, since the affected person has a more or less visibly constricted chest area with shoulders that often fall forward. It is this narrow chest area that ensures that the hunchback can also show up in symptoms in the internal organs that have less space for their function.

Cardiac activity can be affected, as can lung function, since the space to breathe is limited by the hunchback. The stomach may also be affected in its natural activity. However, the main symptoms of hunchback are found in the area of ​​the support and movement system.

Back pain, neck pain and headaches can be the result. The shortened muscles in the chest area and the weakened muscles in the area of ​​the upper back result in a muscular imbalance, which can also lead to pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.

Diagnosis & History

Diagnosing a hunchback is one of the easier tasks for orthopedists and physiotherapists, as it is usually visible to the naked eye.

In order to get complete clarity, an X-ray of the spine can also be taken. The consequences of an untreated round back are manifold and should not be underestimated. In addition to more harmless symptoms such as slight headaches and back pain or a restricted range of motion, more serious consequences such as sleep disorders, which can lead to psychological problems and even depression, can also occur.

In addition, the hunchback can impair the unrestricted function of important organs such as the heart or lungs, as these can be affected by the curvature of the chest. Without targeted treatment, the curvature of the spine continues to increase and can lead to damage to the spinal cord and consequential damage to other areas of the musculoskeletal system.


A hunchback is always accompanied by overstretching and compression, which inevitably leads to damage to muscles, tendons, vertebral bodies and connective tissue. This is associated with painful tension, but also with damage to the intervertebral discs and signs of wear. The lower spine area is most stressed – this leads to pain in the lumbar and sacral vertebrae and restricted movement.

In the shoulder area, a hunchback can cause inflammation in the bursae. If the nerves are impaired, functional disorders occur in various parts of the body. There is numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, and complications such as incontinence or urinary retention occur in the bladder and rectum. A hunchback has a negative effect on performance and well-being.

Chronically ill people often suffer from mental problems. Treatment also carries risks. Surgical intervention is associated with the risk of nerve damage, bleeding and infection. Wound healing disorders and postoperative bleeding delay the healing process and can occasionally cause major complications.

Prescribed painkillers can occasionally trigger symptoms such as headaches, body aches or gastrointestinal problems. Interactions with other medications or illnesses can sometimes lead to further problems.

When should you go to the doctor?

A hunchback should be treated by a doctor. If left untreated, further compilations can occur, which can significantly limit and complicate the everyday life of the person concerned. Early diagnosis with subsequent treatment has a positive effect on the further course of the disease and can prevent further symptoms or complications.

A doctor should be consulted if the back shows an unnatural curvature. In most cases, friends or family of the person affected can point out the hunchback to the patient. Since the internal organs also have less space in the body due to the hunchback, damage to these organs can occur. Permanent pain in the back or neck is often an indication of these symptoms, and the person concerned can also suffer from severely weakened muscles. The pain often spreads to neighboring regions.

In the case of a hunchback, a general practitioner can be consulted first. However, further treatment is then carried out by a specialist.

Treatment & Therapy

The first treatment option for hunchback in most cases is physical therapy. Both the back and chest muscles are specifically trained and built up.

In addition, there is the learning and independent use of special breathing techniques that are intended to relax and relieve the wrongly strained muscles. In addition, there is the possibility of wearing a corset, which can be adapted to the respective degree of severity of the rounded back through various adjustment options.

In particularly severe cases, an operation is even necessary. In the case of a rounded back caused by a vertebral fracture, a so-called kyphoplasty is performed, for example, in which the fractured vertebrae are stabilized again using bone cement.

The best way to prevent a hunchback caused by a lack of exercise and incorrect sitting posture is through regular exercise and correct posture when sitting. Most gyms these days offer classes that include exercises specifically designed to stabilize the spine and strengthen the back muscles.

Regular jogging or walking is also beneficial for the back muscles and correct posture and can counteract the development of a hunchback.


The hunchback is a widespread phenomenon and should not be underestimated because of its possible consequences. However, various therapies and options for prevention and prevention, such as sport, can counteract an existing round back or prevent it from becoming a problem in the first place.


Follow-up care is often necessary for a hunchback if it was previously severe and an operation had to be carried out as a result. The follow-up treatment takes place in cooperation with a specialized orthopedist and physiotherapist. The cooperation of the patient also plays an important role. So he should consistently continue the physiotherapy exercises that he learns as part of physiotherapy in his own four walls.

The physiotherapeutic exercises serve to gently stretch the shortened chest muscles. This, in turn, can treat the curvature that tends unhealthily in the front direction. The exercises also strengthen the upper back region, which promotes the physiological straightening of the spine. In rehabilitation sports, training units are possible on devices that stimulate targeted strengthening of the muscles.

Bed rest is not necessary after surgery on the hunchback. The patient is allowed to stand up with an escort just a few hours after the operation, and he can move normally. However, it is advisable to wear a corset for a short period of time. To counteract the pain after the operation, the patient is given a special pain catheter. This stays on the body for a few days.

It is important for follow-up care to regularly perform isometric exercises to strengthen the trunk muscles. In order to assess the postoperative consolidation of the hunchback, clinical control examinations are also carried out and X-rays taken.

You can do that yourself

Patients suffering from a rounded back can perform various gymnastic exercises. You should contact a physiotherapist and work out appropriate measures. Proper exercise can improve spinal health. The posture can usually only be corrected to a limited extent. It is all the more important to avoid further damage through appropriate movement strategies.

No strenuous physical activities should be carried out after an operation. It is important to take care of your back and to contribute to your recovery with targeted physiotherapy. In consultation with the specialist, natural remedies can be used to relieve any pain. This not only solves immediate discomfort, but also makes it easier to walk straight. This reduces incorrect posture and avoids consequential damage such as joint wear. Hyperkyphosis can also be treated with breathing exercises. Targeted training increases the respiratory volume and alleviates the shortness of breath that accompanies the widow’s hump.

If these measures are consistently observed, a strengthening of the hunchback can be avoided. In addition, further postural damage can be prevented through gymnastics and an active lifestyle. Elderly patients in particular must remain active to counteract hyperkyphosis.