Lumbar lordosis

Also referred to as ‘saddle back’ and ‘swayback’, lumbar lordosis is a condition characterized by excessive spinal curvature in the lower back. It may be noted that the spine naturally bends at the neck, upper back area, and lower back region to support the head’s weight and help absorb shock. Lumbar lordosis develops when the natural spinal arch in the lumbar area or the lower back bends more than normal. This can result in additional pressure on the spine leading to pain.

Individuals affected by lumbar lordosis typically elicit a noticeable curve in their lower backs. The lower back area shows a distinctive ‘C’ shape when patients are viewed from the side. Additionally, the buttocks and stomach look as if they were jutting out.

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One of the easiest ways to verify the presence of lumbar lordosis involves lying on the back over a hard surface. There is some space between the surface and the lower back where people can slide their hands. In people with lumbar lordosis, this space is a lot more than normal, which allows them to easily slide their hands under the lower back.

The general health of the spine is essential for much of human mobility, flexibility, and activities. Hence treatment for lumbar lordosis is important. Seeking treatment for correction of spinal curvature will also help avoid health complications like chronic pain in the back, arthritis, etc., during old age.

When to consult a doctor

When the lordotic curve is seen to be flexible, i.e. it corrects itself when bending over, then treatment is not required. However, if the lordotic curve is inflexible, i.e. it stays as is even after bending forward, then patients must seek medical treatment.

Treatment for lumbar lordosis also becomes necessary when the patients experience any of the below listed symptoms:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Numbness or tingling sensations

Causes of lumbar lordosis

Lumbar lordosis often develops during childhood without any explicit cause. It is known as benign juvenile lumbar lordosis. It may also be noted that lumbar lordosis can occur in people of all age groups.

Even though there are no known causes of lumbar lordosis, certain factors such as imbalances in muscle length or strength, like tight hip flexors or weak hamstrings can increase the risk to this spinal condition.

Other factors that can potentially contribute towards development of lumbar lordosisare listed below:

  • Occurrence of vertebral anomalies which may be present from birth, or which arise due to hip joint problems, or poor posture.
  • Presence of varied disorders that affect neuromuscular functions, namely, forward/backward displacement of a vertebra i.e. spondylolisthesis; a type or dwarfism or anomalous growth of bones i.e. achondroplasia; increased weakening of bones along with increasing age i.e. osteoporosis; an abnormal backward arch in the vertebral column i.e. kyphosis; and inflammation of the disc space occurring between the spinal bones i.e. discitis.
  • A personal history of back surgery, obesity, and a neck injury/injuries can also increase the threat to development of lumbar lordosis.

Diagnosis

The doctor will carry out a physical examination of individuals affected by lumbar lordosis so as to gauge the extent of the spinal curvature and its effect on the patient’s posture.

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Doctors will verify whether the curve is flexible or fixed by asking the patient to bend over. If the curve remains fixed, then further diagnostic tests like an x-ray of the spine will be recommended.

Treatment of lumbar lordosis

Treatment for lumbar lordosis is dependent on the severity of the spine abnormality as well as the occurrence of additional symptoms. Treatment is aimed at halting the progression of abnormal curvature and preventing the onset of further deformity.

Some of the treatment options for lumbar lordosis are listed below:

  • Physical therapy is beneficial for many patients. Physical therapy along with some types of postural exercises may be needed to correct the abnormalities associated with the spine curvature. Physical therapy also helps in strengthening the main muscles.
  • If lumbar lordosis arises due to poor or improper posture, then simple exercises are all that are needed.
  • Patients who suffer from pain may be given anti-inflammatory drugs for alleviation of pain and reduction of swelling and inflammation.
  • Obese people are recommended to lose weight
  • Yoga and meditation can help enhance the strength, awareness about the body, the range of motion,and flexibility.
  • Teens and young children may need to wear braces to correct the spine curvature anomaly.
  • Severe instances of lumbar lordosis may need different types of surgical procedures such as artificial disc replacement, spinal instrumentation, or kyphoplasty to rectify the condition.

A majority of patients do not suffer from any major health complications even if lumbar lordosis is left untreated. However, as the spine plays a vital role in much of human flexibility and movements, it is essential to manage the health of the spine. Untreated cases can also increase the susceptibility to developing additional problems of the spine, legs, hip girdle, and internal glands.

Lumbar lordosis pictures

 

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