(Swayback; Saddle Back)
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.
The sooner lordosis is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.
The exact cause of lordosis is often unknown, but may be caused by:
These factors increase your chance of developing lordosis. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
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.
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
For mild cases of lordosis, treatment is often not necessary. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:
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.
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given for discomfort or to decrease swelling.
Braces are sometimes used with children. The brace can make sure the curve doesn’t worsen as they grow.
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.
of Orthopaedic Surgeons
North American Spine Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Lordosis. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1095/mainpageS1095P0.html . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Lordosis. Seattle Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://orthopedics.seattlechildrens.org/conditions_treated/lordosis.asp . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Lordosis. University of Illinois Medical Center. Available at: http://uimc.discoveryhospital.com/main.php?t=enc&id=2624 . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Swayback (Lordosis). Cedars Sinai Health System website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/5725.html . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>John C. Keel, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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