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Kyphosis Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Kyphosis is a curvature of the spine in the upper and middle part of the back. It’s sometimes called hunchback or roundback.

kyphosis illustration

Mild kyphosis usually isn’t even visible, doesn’t cause any other problems, and doesn’t require treatment. In severe cases, however, the curvature is visible, can be painful, and might cause problems in the lungs, stomach, and other organs.

Kids and teens with severe kyphosis often need back braces and physical therapy. Surgery is rarely required. But those who do have surgery usually can resume an active lifestyle after treatment.

Students with kyphosis may:

  • feel embarrassed about wearing a back brace to school
  • miss a lot of class time if surgery is required (up to a month)
  • need additional time to complete assignments and make up tests
  • benefit from having a 504 education plan that calls for seating accommodations and additional time getting to and from classes
  • need to visit the school nurse for pain medication 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 about themselves and their appearance.

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

Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: July 2015