A Closer Look at Lordosis

Your spine’s not supposed to be perfectly straight. A healthy spine has three gentle curves—two curves, in the neck and lower back, that reach toward the front of the body, known as lordosis, and one called kyphosis in the upper back that bows outward. These curves help your spine absorb shock, support your head, and keep your body stable.

But, too much of a good thing can be not so good. When the lordosis curve at your lower back or (less frequently) your neck becomes too pronounced, you’re said to have hyperlordosis (somewhat confusingly also referred to as just lordosis), which can bring with a host of problems such as low back pain, neck pain, numbness, weakness, and more. Here’s how you can recognize if your lordosis curves are too extreme.  

What Is 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.
Various spinal deformity types, including lordosis.Lordosis is defined as an excessive inward curve of the spine. Photo Source: Shutterstock.

Different Types of Lordosis

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.

Common Causes of Lordosis

Certain disease processes can adversely affect the structural integrity of the spine and contribute to lordosis. Some common causes include: 

  • 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.

Symptoms of Lordosis

Lordosis throws off the careful structure and alignment of the rest of the spine and, indeed, the entire body, forcing muscles and tendons to work harder to provide the necessary support. That’s why the top symptoms of lordosis is pain, either in the neck or the lower back.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Bladder incontinence
Updated on: 07/12/21
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How Doctors Diagnose and Treat Lordosis
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How Doctors Diagnose and Treat Lordosis

Doctor John Regan presents patients with information about how abnormal lordosis is diagnosed and treatment options.
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