hunchback, abnormal outward curvature of the spine in the thoracic region. It is also known as kyphosis and humpback, and in its severe form a noticeable hump is evident on the back. Hunchback may be congenital, but it can also result from poor posture, uneven growth of the spine, fracture of vertebrae, or deficiency disorders that lead to a weakening or collapse of the vertebrae. Treatment may consist of exercises to strengthen the vertebral column, the application of orthopedic devices to hold the bones in proper position, or corrective surgery to fuse the bones together.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.