My dear uncle had a farming accident several years ago and broke his back. It happened during the harvest. He didn't take any time off and just kept right on working. I notice his upper back is starting to curve forward badly. Is it too late to do something to help him?

Maybe not. An orthopedic surgeon would need to see him and evaluate his situation. A clinical exam along with X-rays will help identify the problem and possible solutions.

Kyphosis or forward curvature of the spine can occur after injury to the spine, especially if there's been a fracture that wasn't treated properly. This type of post-traumatic deformity can be improved with surgery to fuse the spine.

The surgeon may have to remove any badly broken, compressed, or deformed vertebral bones. Bone graft is used to fill in the empty hole. Titanium plates and screws or a dual rod system is used to hold the spine in place until fusion is complete.

Correction of the curve is easier with better results if done early after the injury. But even when delayed, patients report good results. They have less pain, better function, and fewer neurologic symptoms.

Reference: 

Í. Teoman Benli, MD, et al. Minimum 5-Year Follow-up Surgical Results of Post-Traumatic Thoracic and Lumbar Kyphosis Treated with Anterior Instrumentation. In Spine. April 20, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 9. Pp. 986-994.

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