Why do people get a hunch back in old age?

What we call a hunchback is a spinal deformity causing forward curved posture mostly seen in people above 40 years of age. This is called Hyperkyphosis in medical terminology and is believed that 20 to 40% of men and women will develop this excessive curvature of the back with advancing age.

This spinal deformity usually results due to thinning of bones or osteoporosis, poor posture, degenerative disc disease, muscle weakness and hereditary factors.

Hunchback or Hyperkyphosis will be initially assessed by a visual inspection of your back. The spinal curve may be measured using a flexible ruler or x-ray. If the curve is beyond 40 degrees, then it is confirmed as hyperkyphosis.

Causes of Hyperkyphosis

  • Usually, it is associated with thinning of bones which are medically termed as osteoporosis which may also result in hairline fractures in bones.

  • Degenerative disk or arthritis can also cause spinal changes which may result in curvature of the spine.

  • Sometimes they are associated with a sudden change of posture due to ageing.

  • Some kinds of tumours, infections or general neurological changes as a result of other problems may also cause Hyperkyphosis.

Once you are detected with hyperkyphosis, the physicians may prescribe imaging tests such as x-rays or MRI of the thoracic spine. According to medical research, this condition can be delayed if not totally prevented with improving posture and taking care of physical fitness.