Lumbar lordosis is one of the most common spinal conditions people face, affecting all age groups and backgrounds. Although everyone’s spine naturally curves at the neck, upper back, and lower back, individuals with lordosis have an inward curvature either in the lower or upper back. If your spine arches forward in the lower back region, you may have lumbar lordosis, whereas those with this curvature in the upper back have cervical lordosis.

Lumbar lordosis is also referred to as swayback, as the spine and pelvis are pushed forward, creating a large curve in the back. Not only can this cause mild to moderate pain and discomfort, but it can also affect how you move. Getting diagnosed and treated early on is imperative for those with lordosis.  Ignoring your symptoms may cause more damage down the road.

What is Lordosis?

If you look at a healthy spine from the back, you will notice it should appear straight and uniform. When looking at it from the side, there should be a normal curvature at the neck, midsection, and low back. People with lumbar lordosis have a much more pronounced curve at the low back, often causing either the chest or pelvis to be pushed outward in an unnatural state.

Diagram showing the different types of spinal deformities including lumbar lordosis, scoliosis, and kyphosis

What Causes Lordosis?

Generally, both lumbar lordosis and cervical lordosis are caused by muscular problems or structural changes that affect the discs and bones along the spine. Some of the most common conditions that can lead to lordosis include:

  • Poor posture
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis (a bone disease common among older adults)
  • Osteosarcoma (bone cancer that develops near the knee or in the upper arm)
  • Spondylolisthesis (a spinal condition where the vertebrae in the lower back slip forward)
  • Achondroplasia (a common type of dwarfism)
  • Discitis (inflammation of the discs in the spine)
  • Kyphosis (excessive outward curvature of the thoracic spine)

One of the most common reasons people have lumbar lordosis is because of imbalances in muscle strength and length. Athletes like gymnasts have an increased risk of developing the spinal condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Lumbar Lordosis?

If someone appears to have a swayback or inward curvature of the spine, it is likely lordosis. Some other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Pain that extends into the neck, shoulders, and upper back
  • Limited movement in the neck or lower back
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Electric shock pains
  • Muscle weakness

In some cases, people with lumbar lordosis may also have a trapped or pinched nerve, which can be extremely painful.

Treating Lumbar Lordosis

Treatment for lordosis will depend on the root cause of the condition and the severity of the curvature. The main goal of lumbar lordosis treatment is to build strength and flexibility to increase range of motion and protect the spine. Exercises that strengthen the hip extensors and stretch the hip flexors are often quite beneficial.

We use surgical correction if the curvature interferes with the function of the organs, if the pain is severe, or if all other treatment interventions have failed.  The type of surgery will depend on several factors, but three possible procedures include:

  1. Spinal instrumentation
  2. Artificial disc replacement
  3. Kyphoplasty

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or if you have lordosis, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. In addition to stretching, weight loss, posture correction, braces (for children and teens), and nutritional supplements such as vitamin D may help reduce symptoms.  It is essential to look at the whole body when treating spinal conditions like lumbar lordosis.

Contact us today for an orthopedic consultation.

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