Decreasing thoracic hyperkyphosis – Which treatments are most effective? A systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Hazel J. Jenkins*, Aron S. Downie, Matthew Fernandez, Mark J. Hancock

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    135 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: A variety of treatments aim to reduce thoracic hyperkyphosis in adults, thereby improving posture and reducing possible complications. 

    Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of treatments to reduce thoracic hyperkyphosis. 

    Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis. 

    Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and CENTRAL were searched from inception to March 2021. Two authors independently selected randomised controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of treatments to reduce thoracic hyperkyphosis in adults. Raw data on mean change in thoracic kyphosis were extracted and standardised mean differences (SMD) calculated. Meta-analysis was performed on studies homogenous for study population and intervention. Strength of evidence was assessed using GRADE. 

    Results: Twenty-eight studies were included, with five meta-analyses performed. Low to moderate-quality evidence found structured exercise programs of three-months duration or less effective in reducing thoracic hyperkyphosis in younger (SMD -2.8; 95%CI -4.3 to −1.3) and older populations (SMD -0.3; 95%CI -0.6 to 0.0). Low-quality evidence found bracing for three months or more effective in older participants (SMD -1.0, 95%CI -1.3 to −0.7). A single study demonstrated the effectiveness of multimodal care in younger participants. The available evidence suggests multimodal care, structured exercise programs over three months duration, and taping in older adults, and biofeedback and muscle stimulation in younger adults, are ineffective in reducing thoracic hyperkyphosis. 

    Conclusion: Low to moderate-quality evidence indicates that structured exercise programs are effective to reduce thoracic hyperkyphosis. Low-quality evidence indicates that bracing is effective to reduce thoracic hyperkphosis in older adults.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number102438
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    Number of pages19
    JournalMusculoskeletal Science and Practice
    Early online date5 Aug 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


    • Kyphosis
    • Posture
    • Thoracic
    • Treatment


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