What is lumbar lordosis?
Lumbar lordosis is the normal inward curvature of the spine, located in the lumbar (lower) region of the back. This curve helps the body to absorb shock and remain stable yet flexible. If the curve arches too far inward, however, it's known as increased lumbar lordosis - or hyperlordosis.
In extreme cases, there will be a visible C-shaped arch from the lateral view when the diagnosed individual stands, resulting in their abdomen and buttocks sticking out. This postural position can also be associated with an increased thoracic kyphosis, often resulting in excess pressure on the spine, causing pain and discomfort.
Causes of lumbar lordosis
Lordosis of the spine can be caused by several conditions and factors, affecting people of any age. These include:
- Spondylolisthesis - This is a spinal condition where one of the lower vertebrae slips forward onto the bone below. Learn more about spondylolisthesis here.
- Achondroplasia - This is one of the most common types of dwarfism.
- Osteoporosis - This is a bone disease that leads to decreased bone density, increasing the likelihood of the risk of fractures.
- Obesity - Obesity is an epidemic in a number of countries all around the world. This condition puts people at a higher risk of developing serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- Osteosarcoma - This is a bone cancer that typically develops in the shinbone near the knee, the thighbone or the upper arm near the shoulder.
Symptoms of lumbar lordosis
The most common symptom of lumbar lordosis is muscle pain. When your spine begins to curve abnormally, your muscles get pulled in multiple directions, causing them to spasm or tighten, which can limit movement in your lower back.
To check if you have hyperlordosis, simply lie on a flat surface and check to see if there is a lot of space between the curve of your back and the floor. If you can easily slide your hand through the space, you may have lumbar lordosis. Other symptoms include:
- Weakness of the spine
- Weak bladder control
- Difficulty maintaining muscle control
Lumbar lordosis in children
Often, lumbar lordosis appears during childhood without any apparent cause. This is known as benign juvenile lordosis and occurs as a result of the muscles around the hips weakening or tightening up. Benign juvenile lordosis isn't usually too much of a concern, however, as it tends to correct itself as children grow up.
Other conditions that can cause lumbar lordosis in children are often related to the nervous system and muscle problems. Examples include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Spinal muscular atrophy - An inherited disorder that causes involuntary movements
- Muscular dystrophy - A group of inherited disorders that result in muscle weakness
- Myelomeningocele - An inherited condition where the spinal cord sticks through a gap in the bones of the back
- Arthrogryposis - An issue that occurs at birth where the joints are limited in movement
How is excessive lumbar lordosis diagnosed?
To determine if you have hyperlordosis, your doctor will examine your medical history, conduct a physical assessment and ask about other symptoms. During the physical assessment, your doctor will ask you to bend forward and to the side. Here, they are checking whether the curve is flexible or not, whether your spine is aligned correctly, your range of motion and if there are any abnormalities. They may also ask several questions regarding your spine, its curve and your symptoms.
After narrowing down the possible causes of your lumbar lordosis, your doctor will order tests, including X-rays, in order to determine the angle of your lordotic curve. This will help to diagnose lumbar lordosis based on the angle in comparison to other physical features like height, body mass and age.
Lumbar lordosis treatment
Unless your case of lumbar hyperlordosis is severe, you will not require any treatment. However, if your condition is severe, there are a number of treatment options available to you. These include:
- Medication to minimise pain and swelling
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and increase range of motion
- Wearing a brace to correct the curvature
- Surgery for the most severe cases
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide non-surgical, therapy-based treatment programmes to help improve a variety of spinal conditions, including lumbar hyperlordosis. Our team of expert therapists help patients to perform a variety of exercises aimed at increasing the strength and range of motion of the muscles in the back. You can learn all about our award-winning ScolioGold treatment here.
If you would like more information on our therapy-based treatment courses, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.
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