The spine’s natural curvatures make it stronger, more flexible and facilitate its ability to absorb/distribute mechanical stress incurred during movement. However, there are a number of spinal conditions that involve a loss of one or more of the spine’s healthy curves: lordosis, aka hyperlordosis, being one of them.
The spine’s ability to maintain its natural curvatures affects whether or not it can function optimally. A spinal curve that bends inwards towards the body’s center is known as lordosis, and while there is a healthy range of lordosis, excessive lordosis can cause problems, requiring case-specific treatment.
Before getting into the specifics of lumbar lordosis, let’s explore some basic spinal anatomy for a better understanding of the spine’s healthy curves, and what makes them unhealthy.
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As mentioned, the spine’s healthy curves are key to its optimal function and health; when viewed from the sides, a healthy spine will have a soft ‘S’ shape, and when viewed from the front or back, it will appear straight.
The spine has three main sections: cervical (neck), thoracic (middle/upper back), and lumbar (lower back).
Each spinal section has its own characteristic curvature type: lordotic curves that bend the spine inwards, towards the body’s center, and kyphosis, that bends the spine outwards, away from the body’s center.
The cervical and lumbar sections have lordotic curves, while the thoracic spine is kyphotic.
Spinal curves are measured in degrees, and it’s important to understand that a healthy degree of lordosis and kyphosis does include a range, so it can vary from person to person, but once that degree falls outside a typical range, problems can occur.
For example, a healthy range of cervical lordosis would fall between 20 and 40 degrees; a healthy range of lumbar lordosis would fall in the range of 40 to 60 degrees, and a healthy range of thoracic kyphosis would fall between 20 and 40 degrees.
If a person is diagnosed with lumbar lordosis, this means their lower spine has an excessive inward curvature of the spine. This doesn’t just affect that one spinal section; as the health of each spinal section is dependent upon the others, it disrupts the biomechanics of the entire spine.
So the term lordosis can be used in reference to a healthy degree of lordosis or can be used interchangeably in reference to excessive lordosis, aka hyperlordosis.
Conversely, when there is a loss of lumbar lordosis, the lower spine becomes excessively straight, and what’s known as flatback syndrome can develop as a result.
Now that we have defined the condition, let’s talk about some of its common symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
It’s important to remember that in addition to the spine’s structural and movement-based importance, it also works in tandem with the brain to form the body’s central nervous system (CNS), which is why spinal conditions can produce a myriad of symptoms felt throughout the body.
While each case is different, with some being asymptomatic, and others causing their own unique symptoms based on case-specific variables such as patient age, condition severity (degree of nerve involvement), and causation, common symptoms of lumbar lordosis can include:
Due to the uneven forces introduced by an unnatural spinal curve, a postural deviation is a common visual symptom.
Also known as Swayback, lumbar lordosis (hyperlordosis) can cause the buttocks and abdomen to protrude excessively because of the unnatural arching that happens just above the buttocks.
For people with severe lumbar lordosis whose swayback is pronounced, the related postural changes can be overt, but in some mild forms, the postural deviation isn’t overly noticeable.
For people with excessive lumbar lordosis, if they were to lie with their back flat on the floor, there would always be a gap between the lower back and floor, also due to the unnatural arching.
Now that we have discussed some of the most common symptoms associated with lumbar lordosis, let’s discuss causation.
In order for treatment to be effective, it has to be shaped by a condition’s underlying cause, severity, and experienced symptoms.
There are different causes for lumbar lordosis, and while it's not always known what causes a person's lumbar lordosis, it is associated with some common causes that can further classify a condition:
Postural lumbar lordosis: as the name suggests, postural lordosis is caused by chronic poor posture, and carrying excess weight, or having a weak core, can also contribute by straining the lower back and introducing adverse spinal tension.
Traumatic lumbar lordosis: also, as the name suggests, this condition type is caused by a trauma/injury to the spine, such as a fracture. The presence of other spinal conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis, can also increase the risk of spinal fractures, which in turn, increases the likelihood of developing traumatic lumbar lordosis.
Congenital lumbar lordosis: congenital lumbar lordosis can be caused by an inherited condition, like achondroplasia, which affects cartilage growth. It can also also be caused by a malformation within the spine itself that occurs as the spine develops in utero.
Post-surgical lumbar lordosis: postsurgical lordosis can develop, as a complication, after a surgical procedure, such as a laminectomy, causes the spine to become unstable.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, I have experience treating a wide range of spinal conditions, including lumbar lordosis.
The first step to crafting an effective treatment plan is to customize it fully based on important patient/condition variables such as age, causation, severity, and symptoms.
Patients of the Center benefit from a conservative chiropractic-centered treatment approach that involves integrating multiple treatment modalities for the most specific and effective results.
Lumbar lordosis treatment can consist of working towards restoring as much of the lumbar spine’s healthy curve as possible, and this will, in turn, improve the spine’s overall health and function.
The most important factor in restoring a patient’s natural lordosis is addressing the cause.
If it’s related to obesity or poor posture, the main approach will be lifestyle guidance, and when necessary, physical therapy and condition-specific exercises/stretches can help, particularly with postural issues, and this can include some lumbar-stabilization exercises that can help by improving lumbar muscle strength, flexibility, and reducing the load carried by the spine.
When the presence of another spinal condition causes lumbar lordosis, this primary condition needs to drive the treatment approach; this is the difference between treating lumbar lordosis as a symptom or the condition’s underlying cause.
By combining condition-specific chiropractic care, in-office therapy, and custom-prescribed home exercises, I can help patients work towards restoring as much of the spine’s natural lordosis as possible.
Condition-specific chiropractic care and precise adjustments can help address areas of spinal subluxation (misaligned vertebrae) that can be contributing to the excessive lordosis in the lumbar spine.
Physical therapy and a variety of condition-specific exercises can help strengthen the core muscles, so the spine is optimally supported and stabilized. That takes pressure off the spine and its joints: making it easier for the spine to maintain its natural curvatures and alignment.
In addition, specific physical therapy exercises can help activate certain areas of the brain for enhanced brain-body connection, postural remodeling, and improved body positioning.
The spine’s natural curvatures and alignment are a big part of the body’s optimal health and function.
The spine provides the body with structure and balance, enables flexible movement, and absorbs mechanical stress; it’s also part of the central nervous system, which is why spinal conditions can cause such a wide range of symptoms felt throughout the body.
The spine’s natural kyphosis refers to the curvature of the middle-upper back that bends outwards, away from the body’s center, while the spine’s natural lordosis curves the spine inwards, towards the body’s center, at the cervical and lumbar levels.
Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, patients are treated by a conservative chiropractic-centered treatment approach that integrates multiple treatment disciplines to impact a condition on multiple levels.
I offer nonsurgical treatment for various spinal conditions, including lumbar lordosis, so when it comes to how to fix lumbar lordosis, the answer will be case-specific and driven by a condition’s underlying cause and experienced symptoms.