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Lordosis

Lordosis

Alternate Names

  • swayback
  • hollow back
  • saddle back
  • Lordosis

Definition

Lordosis refers to an abnormal bending of the spine. In lordosis, the curve of the spine results in the person appearing to arch backward (or, stand straighter up than usual).

What is going on in the body?

The normal spine has a slight degree of lordosis in the neck and lower back regions. It bends forward in the chest area. In excessive lordosis, there is a greater arching of the spine, especially in the lower back.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Specific causes of excessive lordosis include:
  • achondroplasia, which is the abnormal conversion of cartilage into bone that results in dwarfism
  • spondylolisthesis, or the slipping forward of one vertebra on top of the one below

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no prevention for lordosis.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Lordosis is diagnosed based on a history and physical exam. X-ray exams are often performed.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Lordosis that occurs in childhood usually corrects itself and is not a medical problem. If the lordosis does not correct itself, it can worsen if not addressed. Permanent lordosis may cause increased strain on the lower spine, with chronic low back pain.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Lordosis is not contagious, and poses no risk to others.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment is unnecessary when lordosis is minimal. Appropriate exercises and posture may help to reduce arching. In rare cases, a back brace or an operation may be needed.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

A brace may cause skin irritation. Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

Periodic checkups can help assess the degree of lordosis and the flexibility of the back. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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