Definition

Lordosis is a curving of the lower back. A certain degree of normal lordosis is in the lumbar and cervical spine. This article refers to abnormal lordosis of the lumbar spine. People with lordosis look like they are arching their lower back and sticking their buttocks out. It can occur in people of all ages.

Excess Lordosis

Lordosis
The shadowed spine to the left shows ideal lordosis.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

The sooner lordosis is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.

Causes

The exact cause of lordosis is often unknown, but may be caused by:

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing lordosis. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

Symptoms

Often times there are no symptoms with lordosis. Depending upon the degree of abnormal curving, you may experience back pain or strain. If you have either of these symptoms do not assume it is due to lordosis. These symptoms may be caused by many other conditions.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the physical, your doctor may ask you to bend your back and move your back. You may also be asked to see a specialist in spine disorders.

Tests may include the following:

  • X-ray of the spine—test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
  • Bone scan —a test that determines mineralization of the bones; detects bone disease
  • MRI scan —test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body; more sensitive than an x-ray
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of body structures; used for detailed images of the spine

Treatment

For mild cases of lordosis, treatment is often not necessary. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may refer you to a therapist to learn specific exercises. Exercises may be used to strengthen muscles and increase range of motion. You may also be taught how to maintain a correct posture.

Medications

Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given for discomfort or to decrease swelling.

Back Brace

Braces are sometimes used with children. The brace can make sure the curve doesn’t worsen as they grow.

Surgery

Surgery is reserved for severe cases. In this case the spine is straightened by using a metal rod, hooks, or screws in the back bones. Surgeons also use a bone graft to promote new growth and stability.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent the development of lordosis.