Everyone’s spine curves a little in your
neck, upper back, and lower back. These curves, which create your spine’s S
shape, are called the lordotic (neck and lower back) and kyphotic (upper back).
They help your body:
- absorb shock
- support the
weight of the head
- align your head
over your pelvis
- stabilize and maintain
- move and bend
Lordosis refers to your natural lordotic
curve, which is normal. But if your curve arches too far inward, it’s called lordosis,
or swayback. Lordosis
can affect your lower back and neck. This can lead to excess pressure on the spine,
causing pain and discomfort. It can affect your ability to move if it’s severe
and left untreated.
Treatment of lordosis depends on how
serious the curve is and how you got lordosis. There’s little medical concern
if your lower back curve reverses itself when you bend forward. You can
probably manage your condition with physical therapy and daily exercises.
But you should see a doctor if the curve
remains the same when you bend forward. Read on to find out what lordosis looks
like and how your doctor will diagnose for it.
What are the types of lordosis?
Lordosis in the lower back
Lordosis in the lower back, or lumbar spine,
is the most common type. The easiest way to check for this condition is to lie
on your back on a flat surface. You should be able to slide your hand under
your lower back, with little space to spare.
Someone with lordosis will have extra
space between their back and the surface. If they have an extreme curve,
there’ll be a visible C-like arch when they stand. And from the side view,
their abdomen and buttocks will stick out.
In a healthy spine, your
neck should look like a very wide C, with the curve pointing toward the back of
your neck. Cervical lordosis is when your spine in the neck region doesn’t
curve as it normally should.
This can mean:
- There’s too
much of a curve.
- The curve is running
in the wrong direction, also called reverse cervical lordosis.
- The curve has
moved to the right.
- The curve has
moved to the left.
are the symptoms of lordosis?
The most common symptom of
lordosis is muscle pain. When your spine curves abnormally, your muscles get
pulled in different directions, causing them to tighten or spasm. If you have
cervical lordosis, this pain may extend to your neck, shoulders, and upper
back. You may also experience limited movement in your neck or lower back.
You can check for lordosis
by lying on a flat surface and checking if there’s a lot of space between the
curve of your neck and back and the floor. You may have lordosis if you can
easily slide your hand through the space.
Make an appointment with
the doctor if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as:
- electric shock
- weak bladder
maintaining muscle control
These may be signs of a
more serious condition such as a trapped nerve.
causes of lordosis
Lordosis can affect people
of any age. Certain conditions and factors can increase your risk for lordosis.
- trauma to the
- poor posture
from sitting or lifting heavy things
- obesity, as excess
weight negatively affects posture
- kyphosis, or
humpback, which forces your body to compensate for the imbalance
- discitis, or
inflammation of the space between your vertebra
or loss of bone density
or when one vertebra slips forward and doesn’t align
a form of dwarfism
Often, lordosis appears in
childhood without any known cause. This is called benign juvenile lordosis. It
happens because the muscles around your child’s hips are weak or tightened up.
Benign juvenile lordosis typically corrects itself as your children grow up.
Lordosis can also be a
sign of a hip dislocation, especially if your child has been hit by a car or
Other conditions that can
cause lordosis in children are normally related to the nervous system and
muscle problems. These conditions are rare and include:
- cerebral palsy
an inherited condition where the spinal cord sticks through a gap in the bones
of the back
dystrophy, a group of inherited disorders that cause muscle weakness
muscular atrophy, an inherited condition that causes involuntary movements
a problem that occurs at birth where the joints can’t move as much as normal
In pregnant women
Many pregnant women
experience back pains and will show the signs of lordosis, a protruding belly
and buttocks. But according to Harvard Gaze, research shows that lordosis during pregnancy is actually your spine
adjusting to realign your center of gravity.
Overall back pain may be
due to altered blood flow in your body, and the pain will most likely go away
How is lordosis diagnosed?
Your doctor will look at
your medical history, perform a physical exam, and ask about other symptoms to
help determine if you have lordosis. During the physical exam, your doctor will
ask you to bend forward and to the side. They’re checking:
- whether the
curve is flexible or not
- your range of
- if your spine
- if there’re
They may also ask
- When did you
notice the excessive curve in your back?
- Is the curve
- Is the curve
- Where are you
After narrowing down the possible
causes, your doctor will order tests, including X-rays of your spine to look at
the angle of your lordotic curve. Your doctor will determine if you have
lordosis based on the angle in comparison to other factors like your height,
age, and body mass.
How to treat lordosis
Most people with lordosis don’t require
medical treatment unless it’s a severe case. Treatment for lordosis will depend
on how severe your curve is and the presence of other symptoms.
Treatment options include:
- medication, to reduce pain and swelling
- daily physical therapy, to strengthen muscles and range of motion
- weight loss, to help posture
- braces, in children and teens
- surgery, in severe cases with neurological concerns
- nutritional supplements such as vitamin D
What’s the outlook for lordosis?
For most people, lordosis does not cause
significant health problems. But it’s important to maintain a healthy spine since
the spine is responsible for much of our movement and flexibility. Not treating
lordosis could lead to long-term discomfort and an increased risk of problems
- hip girdle
How to prevent lordosis
While there aren’t guidelines on preventing
lordosis, you can perform some exercises to maintain good posture and spine
health. These exercises can be:
- neck side
- yoga poses,
like Cat and Bridge pose
- leg raises
- pelvic tilt on
a stability ball
Prolonged standing may
also change the curve of your spine. According to one study,
sitting significantly decreases changes in the lower back curve. If you find
yourself standing a lot, due to work or habits, try taking sitting breaks.
You’ll also want to make sure your chair has sufficient back support.
to see a doctor for lordosis
If the lordotic curve corrects itself when
you bend forward (the curve is flexible), you do not need to seek treatment.
But if you bend over and the lordotic
curve remains (the curve is not flexible), you should seek treatment.
You should also seek treatment if you're
experiencing pain that interferes with your day to day tasks. Much of our
flexibility, mobility, and daily activities depend on the health of the spine.
Your doctor will be able to provide options for managing the excess curvature.
Treating lordosis now can help prevent complications later in life, such as
arthritis and chronic back pain.