Banner Health
Making healthcare easier

Spinal Deformities

What Is a Spinal Deformity?

A spinal deformity affects the curve or alignment of your spine, which is typically in a slight s curve, or it can affect the straight alignment of the spine. Spinal deformities can develop as we age, be caused by accidents or they can present themselves at birth. Spinal deformities can lead to pain, mobility issues and neurological issues if not treated.

Types of Spinal Deformities

There are three types of deformities and they affect the spine in different areas.

Adult Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves to the side. While scoliosis is typically diagnosed during childhood, some cases may go undetected until adulthood or develop as you get older. Adult scoliosis can develop as the discs wear down and the spine weakens as you age. If scoliosis is left untreated, long-term physical complications can occur as well as lung and heart issues.

Learn more about scoliosis


Kyphosis is a condition that occurs when the spine is rounded, sometimes referred to as hunchback. This spinal deformity is commonly diagnosed in older women but it can occur at any age to anyone. The main cause of kyphosis is a vertebrae fracture caused by osteoporosis. While common in adults, kyphosis can be congenital or develop during childhood due to slouching and poor posture. If left untreated, kyphosis can cause serious damage to the spine. Surgical treatment options for kyphosis include a spinal fusion to help reduce the curve. Non-surgical options, depending on the severity of the condition, can include strengthening back muscles and correcting posture.


Lordosis, also known as swayback, is a condition that occurs in the lower back when the spine starts to curve inward. Treatment options for lordosis include pain management, physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles and increase range of motion and surgery is an option for severe cases of lordosis. If left untreated, lordosis can cause pain and discomfort of your back and neck. Lordosis can affect anyone at any age. While some people may be born with this condition, it can also be caused by extra weight on the stomach or bad posture.

Causes and Risk Factors of Spinal Deformities

While spinal deformities are not formed due to any one cause, it’s important to understand your medical and health history. Spinal deformities can be caused by accidents, genetic defects, previous spine surgery or diseases.

Some spinal deformities are congenital and diagnosed at birth. These congenital spine deformities usually develop in utero. Learn more about the pediatric medical care available for children with congenital spine conditions

Spinal Deformity Symptoms

Spinal deformities may have different characteristics and physical appearances. Spinal deformity symptoms can vary as well. Not all spinal deformity symptoms are the same for every person. Some people may experience severe pain while others may experience weakness or numbness. Common spinal deformity symptoms include:

  • Pain that radiates into the arms and legs
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Physical signs of the deformity, such as large hump in the upper back

Spinal Deformity Testing and Diagnosis

Spinal deformities are diagnosed by using x-ray images to get a better understanding of the shape of your spine. Depending on your pain and discomfort, our specialists may conduct multiple imaging tests to help determine a diagnosis.

Learn more about spine testing and diagnosis

Spinal Deformity Treatment Options

At Banner Brain & Spine, our spine specialists focus on non-surgical treatment options as the first approach. Non-surgical options can include pain medication, physical therapy and bracing. If non-surgical options are not effective, surgery may be the next step in the treatment process.

Learn more about spine treatment options