K is for Kyphoscoliosis


This one may be cheating, since it’s three or four things in one.

First, there’s the rare Kyphoscoliosis-type EDS (Also known as Type 6, where Classical EDS is Type 1 or 2 depending on degree of skin involvement, Hypermobility type is Type 3, Vascular is Type 4 and there is no Type 5. Dermatospraxis and Arthrochalasia types are 7c and 7a/7b respectively, and even rarer) – Less than 60 reported cases worldwide, and characterised by, surprisingly, kyphosis and scoliosis which get progressively more pronounced over time, blue scleras, and extreme muscle weakness.

Then there’s kyphosis – Also known as having a hunched back, or a dowger’s hump, or even just a slouch. People with it will get either told off for not standing up straight (as teenagers) or will be correctly identified as having an unusual outward-curvature of the spine, usually at the top, which makes the shoulders seem hunched and the head seem to be pushed forward. It can cause pain in the shoulders and, sometimes, lung problems.

Next is scoliosis, which is where the spine is unusually kinked sideways, making it asymmetrical or s-shaped. Amazingly, this is sometimes only discovered upon x-ray, even though it causes uneven muscle development up and down the spine and across the shoulders and hips, often resulting in pain or compression of the ribs or lungs. Much like kyphosis, it can be compensated for slightly by deliberate strengthening of certain muscle groups, and there are surgical solutions available, with varying degrees of success, but largely speaking it’s just something that “is” rather than “is a problem in its own right”.

Then there’s lordosis, the third of the trip of spine mis-shapes; Where the lower spine is kinked in towards the belly, also known as “swayback” or “ewe back”. It looks inoffensive, in fact, it mimics the lordosis posture which is a pretty common “come hither” in… basically all mammals – But it puts horrendous strain on the lower back, thighs, and pelvis. And, well, hurts.


All, effectively, caused by the collagen in the connective tissue in the spine being too spongy and stretchy, and thus the bones forming slightly “squished” in the first place, and then the whole spine being supported basically by a combination of muscular tension and gravity. This is pretty much also why so many of us have sciatic nerve impingements, herniated or thinned discs, or just generic “back trouble” that follows us around like, well, a backbone.

Broadly speaking, this is why a lot of us don’t do very well in ordinary chairs – even allegedly “ergonomic” ones. No matter how tall or short we are, the lumbar support will be in the wrong place, the headrest will be at the wrong angle, and bits of either vertebrae or pelvis or scapula will dig into the upright of the chair. You can pretty much spot a zebra household by the amount of cushions, well-used chaise longues, unused dining chairs and foot-marks on settees. Most of us either squat, kneel up, sit asymmetrically, or sit with our feet up, if we’re forced to sit upright at all – Otherwise, we recline, lie flat, or  (if we’ve got the leg strength) just stand up and pace around.

It’s bad enough when the limbs aren’t cooperating, but when even the torso is out to get you, it starts to get harder and harder to make the body do anything constructive.

(Notable runners-up to be “K is for…”; Kyphosis, keratin, ketamine)

2 thoughts on “K is for Kyphoscoliosis

  1. I had no idea about this!
    I look like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame sometimes. The more tired and exhausted I get, the worse it is. When I drive home from work I am sometimes so sunk down that I can barly look over the steering wheel – despite being 1.85 m. Even without the fact that lately I can hardly hold up my head with my neck.

    And my side of the bed is filled with cushions, I need to stuff them into different parts of my back, head and legs all the time to relieve pain and pressure. I never eat sitting up. I never sit up basically. It annoys the hell out of Keef sometimes.
    Also one of the reasons why I hate shopping so much! You have to stand straight-ish in line for so long, it hurts my back and hips so incredibly much. How do you handle shopping?

    • Honestly – I just don’t shop much anymore; I either get deliveries, or go at two or three in the morning where I can guarantee being the only person in the supermarket.

      Seriously feel your pain on the “I never sit up anymore” front – I have a sort of moving nest of sheepskins that I drag from place to place with me.

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