European Spine Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 1229–1237 | Cite as

Camptocormia: the bent spine syndrome, an update

  • Thibaut Lenoir
  • Nathalie GuedjEmail author
  • Philippe Boulu
  • Pierre Guigui
  • Michel Benoist
Review Article


Camptocormia, also referred to as bent spine syndrome (BSS) is defined as an abnormal flexion of the trunk, appearing in standing position, increasing during walking and abating in supine position. BSS was initially considered, especially in wartime, as a psychogenic disorder. It is now recognized that in addition to psychiatric syndromes, many cases of reducible BSS have a somatic origin related to a number of musculo-skeletal or neurological disorders. The majority of BSS of muscular origin is related to a primary idiopathic axial myopathy of late onset, appearing progressively in elderly patients. Diagnosis of axial myopathy first described by Laroche et al. is based upon CT/MRI examination demonstrating massive fatty infiltration of paravertebral muscles. The non-specific histological aspect includes an extensive endomysial fibrosis and fat tissue with irregular degenerated fibers. Weakness of the paravertebral muscles can be secondary to a wide variety of diseases generating diffuse pathologic changes in the muscular tissue. BSS can be the predominant and sometimes revealing symptom of a more generalized muscular disorder. Causes of secondary BSS are numerous. They must be carefully assessed and ruled out before considering the diagnosis of primary axial myopathy. The principal etiologies include on the one hand inflammatory myopathies, muscular dystrophies of late onset, myotonic myopathies, endocrine and metabolic myopathies, and on the other hand neurological disorders, principally Parkinson’s disease. Camptocormia in Parkinsonism is caused by axial dystonia, which is the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. There is no specific pharmacologic treatment for primary axial myopathy. General activity, walking with a cane, physiotherapy, and exercises should be encouraged. Treatment of secondary forms of BSS is dependent upon the variety of the disorder generating the muscular pathology. Pharmacologic and general management of camptocormia in Parkinson’s disease merge with that of Parkinsonism. Levodopa treatment, usually active on tumor rigidity and akinesia, has poor or negative effect on BSS.


Camptocormia Bent spine syndrome Axial myopathy Muscular dystrophies Parkinson’s disease 



We would like to thank Maryse Lesage for her excellent secretarial work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thibaut Lenoir
    • 1
  • Nathalie Guedj
    • 2
    Email author
  • Philippe Boulu
    • 3
  • Pierre Guigui
    • 1
  • Michel Benoist
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryHôpital BeaujonClichyFrance
  2. 2.Department of PathologyHôpital BeaujonClichyFrance
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyHôpital BeaujonClichyFrance
  4. 4.Department of RheumatologyHôpital BeaujonClichyFrance

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