The study was done by researchers of University of California at Los Angeles and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. At the onset, the researchers wanted to assess whether a specifically designed yoga intervention can reduce hyperkyphosis or kyphosis.
What is kyphosis? According to the Mayo Clinic, kyphosis is a forward rounding of your upper back. Some rounding is normal, but the term “kyphosis” usually refers to an exaggerated rounding, more than 40 to 45 degrees. This deformity is also called round back or hunchback.
With kyphosis, your spine may look normal or you may develop a hump. Kyphosis can occur as a result of developmental problems; degenerative diseases, such as arthritis of the spine; osteoporosis with compression fractures of the vertebrae; or trauma to the spine. It can affect children, adolescents and adults.
Mild cases of kyphosis may cause few problems. But severe cases can affect your lungs, nerves and other tissues and organs, causing pain and other problems. Treatment for kyphosis depends on the cause of the curvature and its effects.
Kyphosis symptoms may include:
In mild cases, kyphosis may produce no noticeable signs or symptoms.
The study involved a 6-month, two-group, randomized, controlled, single-masked trial in a community research unit.
168 women and men aged 60 and older with a kyphosis angle of 40° or greater participated in the trial. Major exclusions were serious medical comorbidity, use of assistive device, inability to hear or see adequately for participation, and inability to pass a physical safety screen.
The active treatment group attended hour-long yoga classes 3 days per week for 24 weeks. The control group attended a monthly luncheon and seminar and received mailings.
The results show that compared with control participants, participants randomized to yoga experienced a 4.4% improvement in flexicurve kyphosis angle and a 5% improvement in kyphosis index. However, yoga did not result in statistically significant improvement in Debrunner kyphometer angle, measured physical performance, or self-assessed health-related quality of life.
It’s concluded that the decrease in flexicurve kyphosis angle in the yoga treatment group shows that hyperkyphosis is remediable, a critical first step in the pathway to treating or preventing this condition.
The researchers note that larger, more-definitive studies of yoga or other interventions for hyperkyphosis should be considered. Targeting individuals with more-malleable spines and using longitudinally precise measures of kyphosis could strengthen the treatment effect.