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Spinal Curves

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In the womb and for a period of time following birth, a baby’s spine is shaped like the letter C. This curve is termed a primary curve, which is Kyphotic. During the time the baby is learning to lift his head and eventually walk, muscles develop. As muscular strength and ability is gained, the baby’s activity will shift body weight to the spine. Gradually secondary curves develop in the cervical and lumbar regions; Lordotic curves. These curves will continue to develop until growing stops.

Spinal curves are either kyphotic or lordotic. In a normal spine there are four types of spinal curvatures important to balance, flexibility, and stress absorption and distribution.

 

spine, lateral, labeled, color drawing

 

Type of Spinal Curves Curve Description
Kyphosis or Kyphotic Curve Concave anteriorly and convex posteriorly
Lordosis or Lordotic Curve Convex anteriorly and concave posteriorly
   
Curvature Normal Curvature
Cervical Lordosis 20 to 40 degrees
Thoracic Kyphosis 20 to 40 degrees
Lumbar Lordosis 40 to 60 degrees
Sacral Kyphosis Sacrum fused in a kyphotic curve
Updated on: 02/01/10
Mary Rodts, DNP
Understanding the terminology associated with spinal problems is very important as health care providers discuss the problems and the solutions for the spinal disorder with patients and families. This article helps clarify a difficult topic.
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