Also known by other names such as 'swayback' or 'saddle back', lordosis is defined as an increases curvature of the normally curved lumbar spine. The spine needs a natural curve to carry out its normal function and for this reason it is curved at the neck, the torso and the lower back area. This very factor maintains a natural position of the head over the pelvis. This curve is also necessary to serve as shock absorber, which works in distributing the stress caused during body movement. It is normal for the lumbar and cervical regions of the spine to have a certain amount of curvature. However, when this normal curvature exceeds its usual degree, the condition of severe lordosis occurs. Causes may be related to certain medical conditions or poor posture. Physical therapy is usually the first line of treatment for this condition. However, severe cases may require the aid of bracing, casting or surgery.
Causes of Lordosis
As aforesaid, lordosis does not have specific causes. However, factors like imbalance in muscle strength and length such as weak hamstrings, or tight hip flexors may be related to this condition. Other contributing factors may include vertebral problems which may be congenital, those resulting from poor posture or problems with the hip joint. People having neuromuscular problems, those with achondroplasia (disorder characterized by abnormal bone growth), discitis (inflammation of disc space between bones of the spine), kyphosis (abnormal backward curve in the vertebral column), osteoporosis or spondylolisthesis (forward dislocation of a vertebra), may experience lordosis. Obesity and history of a back surgery are other factors that contribute to the development of lordosis. Improper posture and neck injury could also cause lordosis.
An individual with lordosis may show prominent buttocks. When lying down on a hard surface, there is significant space beneath his lower back.
Diagnosis and Care
If the lordotic curve reverses itself on bending forward, which means the curve is flexible, then the condition requires no medical treatment. Only if the curvature is fixed (i.e. the curve is not flexible) or when unnatural posture is observed, medical intervention is required.
A physical exam to know the nature of the curve and its impact on the posture of an individual, helps diagnose the condition. The individual is asked to bend forward, which is to soecifically check if the curve is fixed. An x-ray of the spine might be required when the curve is fixed (i.e. when it does not reverse itself on bending forward).
Physical therapy and certain postural exercises to improve the condition are sought as corrective measures for lordosis. The focus is on putting a halt on the progression of the curve and avoiding further deformity. If the condition is accompanied by pain, patients may be administered anti-inflammatory medicines for pain management. Most patients benefit from the use of physical therapy. If the condition is related to poor posture, then simple exercises can help.
In cases, where the condition has progressed to a severe stage, patients may be advised to opt for spinal instrumentation, artificial disc replacement, kyphoplasty or other surgical procedures in order to correct the condition.