Kyphosis is a forward curvature (giving the look of a hunchback); and scoliosis is a lateral bending where the spine curves left or right. Each condition can occur independently, but when they appear together they are known as kyphoscoliosis.
Kyphoscoliosis is not uncommon, and may be present from birth or develop over time. A formal diagnosis is only possible after an x-ray or scan. In around 80% of cases no cause can be found, although in a minority of cases it is caused by other underlying medical conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy (Spinal curve is also often seen in older people who are living with osteoporosis, although this is not true kyphosis).
Treatment depends on the patient’s age, the severity of the condition and whether the clinician thinks the condition will worsen with time. Children may be given a back brace to wear until they stop growing, to prevent any further curving. In adults, treatment primarily aims to relieve pain, and so non-surgical options such as painkillers, exercise and non-invasive positive pressure ventilation techniques are preferred.