A Closer Look at Lordosis
Lordosis is defined as an excessive inward curve of the spine. It differs from the spine's normal curves at the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions, which are, to a degree, either kyphotic (near the neck) or lordotic (closer to the low back). The spine's natural curves position the head over the pelvis and work as shock absorbers to distribute mechanical stress during movement.
Lordosis is found in all age groups. It primarily affects the lumbar spine, but can occur in the neck (cervical). When found in the lumbar spine, the patient may appear swayback, with the buttocks more prominent, and in general an exaggerated posture. Lumbar lordosis can be painful, too, sometimes affecting movement.
Certain disease processes can adversely affect the structural integrity of the spine and contribute to lordosis. Some common causes include discitis, kyphosis, obesity, osteoporosis, and spondylolisthesis.
*Discitis is inflammation of intervertebral disc space.
*Kyphosis (eg 'humpback') may force the low back to compensate for the imbalance created by a curve occurring at a higher level of the spine.
*Obesity may cause some overweight people to lean backward to improve balance. This has a negative impact on posture.
*Osteoporosis is a bone density disease that may cause vertebrae to loose strength, compromising the spine's structural integrity.
*Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward in relation an adjacent one, usually in the lumbar spine.
Not every lordosis requires medical treatment. However, when the curve is rigid (fixed), medical evaluation is warranted.