What is Lordosis?
Lordosis is a natural inward curve of the lumbar spine. There are 5 lumbar vertebrae. When looked at from the side the lumbar spine (bottom of your spine, the low back) is concave. This is called lordosis. When looked at from the side, a healthy spine should resemble the shape of a backwards ‘S.’ In order to attain this shape, the spine naturally has some curves in it. The inward curve of your neck is called lordosis. Then the thoracic spine curves out a little bit becoming convex and this curve is called kyphosis.
As you move down to the lumbar spine, the low back, there’s another inward, lordotic curve. Some lordosis is normal and natural. However, too much of one thing is not ideal and will probably cause pain. When the lordotic curve is excessive, in the case of ‘swayback’ or minimal in the case of flat back, this is when problems can occur. In swayback, your low back presents as hyper-lordotic, displaying a more prominent buttock region and an exaggerated posture.
The term ‘Lordosis’ is used medically to describe both the normal curve of the spine, but it is also used as a diagnostic term when someone is having a problem with their low back. A person with excessive lordosis will simply be diagnosed as having ‘Lordosis’ although it is a term used to describe normal anatomy of the spine as well.
What Causes Lordosis?
Lordosis is an anatomical condition for the most part, meaning that if a trauma or illness did not cause this excessive curve of the spine, that is simply the way you were born and developed and the result in adulthood is a hyper lordotic curve of your skeleton in the lumbar spine. However, there are certainly external factors that may cause someone to experience this condition when they didn’t previously. These factors may include:
- A problem with the intervertebral discs
- Osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer)
- Spondylolisthesis (when a vertebral bone of the lumbar spine slips forward)
- Traumatic injury to the low back, pelvis, or hips
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Lordosis can be a very uncomfortable condition. If the inward curve at the base of your spine is excessive and causing problems, symptoms that you may experience are:
- An unnatural looking posture of your low back
- Back pain
- Muscular weakness of surrounding musculature. This happens as a result of muscular imbalances causing some muscles to work harder and overcompensate for the altered posture
- Loss of range of motion in the lumbar spine
- Numbness, tingling, and other radicular symptoms
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Treatment for Lordosis
Not all cases of Lordosis are serious enough to require medical intervention. But if your back is causing you great discomfort and dysfunction, intervention is necessary. These interventions may include:
- Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs
- A course of physical therapy that will help to reverse any muscle imbalances and teach you about the importance of proper posture and body mechanics
- A back brace
- Weight loss
- In severe cases, surgery to correct the anatomy of the skeletal system may be necessary and any other underlying issues that may contribute to a hyper lordotic posture