Category Archives: Lordosis, Kyphosis, and Scoliosis

Scoliosis: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. The normal shape of a person’s spine includes a curve at the top of the shoulder and a curve at the lower back. If your spine is curved from side to side or in an “S” or “C” shape, you might have scoliosis.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), about 80 percent of scoliosis cases have no identifiable cause. The condition is often diagnosed during the first seven years of a child’s life. Common causes, when they can be pinpointed, are:

  • birth defects
  • neurological abnormalities
  • genetic conditions

What are the common types of scoliosis?

The largest category of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis, a term used to refer to cases that have no definite cause. Idiopathic scoliosis is broken down by age group:

  • infant: 0 to 3 years
  • juvenile: 4 to 10 years
  • adolescent: 11 to 18 years
  • adult: 18+ years

Of these, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common, according to the AANS.

Doctors identify a cause for an estimated 20 percent of scoliosis cases. These consist of different types of scoliosis, including:

  • congenital, in which spinal deformities are apparent at birth
  • neurological, when nerve abnormalities affect muscles in the spine

Scoliosis can also be categorized as either structural or nonstructural. In structural scoliosis, the spine’s curve is caused by a disease, injury, or birth defect, and is permanent. Nonstructural scoliosis describes temporary curves that can be fixed.

What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

Symptoms vary depending on the degree of scoliosis. Common symptoms associated with scoliosis include:

  • one shoulder blade that is higher than the other
  • one shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other
  • uneven hips
  • a rotating spine
  • problems breathing because of reduced area in the chest for lungs to expand
  • back pain

What causes scoliosis?

The cause of scoliosis often can’t be determined. Common causes that doctors may identify include:

  • cerebral palsy, a group of nervous system disorders that affect movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking
  • muscular dystrophy, a group of genetic disorders that result in muscle weakness
  • birth defects that affect an infant’s spinal bones, such as spina bifida
  • spinal injuries or infections

People with a family history of scoliosis are more likely to develop the condition. Girls are more likely to have a more severe form of scoliosis than boys.

How is scoliosis diagnosed?

A physical exam of your spine is the first step your doctor takes to see if you have scoliosis. Your doctor may also order some imaging tests to get a closer look at your spine.

Physical exam

Your doctor will observe your back while you stand with your arms at your sides. They’ll check for spine curvature and whether your shoulders and waist area are symmetrical. Next, your doctor will ask you to bend forward, looking for any curvature in your upper and lower back.

Imaging

Imaging tests your doctor may order to look for scoliosis include:

  • X-ray: uses small amounts of radiation to create a picture of your spine
  • MRI scan: uses radio and magnetic waves to get a detailed picture of bones and the tissue surrounding them
  • CT scan: takes X-rays at a variety of angles to get a 3-D picture of the body
  • bone scan: detects a radioactive solution injected into your blood that concentrates in areas of increased circulation, highlighting spinal abnormalities

What are the treatment options for scoliosis?

Treatment depends on numerous factors, the degree of spine curvature being a major one. Your doctor will also take into consideration:

  • your age
  • whether you are likely to continue growing
  • the amount and type of curvature
  • the type of the scoliosis

The primary treatment options are bracing and surgery.

Bracing

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a person with scoliosis may need to use a brace if:

  • They’re still growing and the curvature is more than 25 to 30 degrees.
  • They’re still growing and the curvature is between 20 and 29 degrees, but the curvature is getting worse.
  • The curvature is between 20 and 29 degrees and the person has at least two more years to grow (also applies to girls who haven’t begun menstruation).

Braces won’t straighten the spine, but they can prevent the curvature from increasing. This method of treatment is more effective for cases that are detected early.

Those requiring a brace need to wear it 24 hours a day for maximum effectiveness. As an exception, children may remove their braces to participate in exercise and sports activities.

Doctors usually recommend that children wear their braces until they reach adolescence and are no longer growing.

There are two main types of braces:

  • Underarm: Made of plastic and fitting close to the body, this brace is virtually invisible. It’s used to treat lower spine curves and fits around the lower part of the body.
  • Milwaukee: This brace starts at the neck and covers the entire torso, with the exception of the legs and arms. It’s used for curves that the underarm brace can’t address.

Surgery

Surgery is usually reserved for people with curves greater than 45 or 50 degrees. However, talk to your doctor about this option if you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis and feel the curvature is interrupting your daily life or causing you discomfort.

Spinal fusion is the standard scoliosis surgery. In this procedure, the doctor fuses your vertebrae together using a bone graft, rods, and screws. The bone graft consists of bone or a material like it. The rods keep your spine in a straight position, and the screws hold them in place. Eventually, the bone graft and vertebrae fuse into a single bone. Rods can be adjusted in children as they grow.

Some of the risks of spinal fusion surgery include:

  • excessive bleeding
  • failure to heal
  • infection
  • pain
  • nerve damage

What is the long-term outlook for scoliosis?

The long-term outlook for scoliosis depends on how severe the curvature is. For mild to moderate cases, the condition won’t interfere with everyday activities and functions. Individuals with severe forms of scoliosis may have physical limitations.

Living with scoliosis can be difficult. If you’re looking for help managing your scoliosis, you may want to seek out a support group. Support groups allow you to meet others who are experiencing the same things, and you can find encouragement and advice about dealing with the condition on a daily basis.

The National Scoliosis Foundation is a good starting point for finding resources.

Medically reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine on November 14, 2016 — Written by Shannon Johnson

Scoliosis Exercises You Can Do at Home

Overview

Scoliosis is characterized by an S- or C-shaped curve in the spine. It’s generally seen in childhood, but it can also come about in adulthood. Scoliosis in adults can occur due to a variety of reasons, including genetics, uneven pelvic position, past spinal or joint surgeries, knee or foot distortions, or even head injuries. Some curves are deeper than others. In moderate to severe cases, scoliosis is corrected through surgery. If you suspect scoliosis, you should consult your doctor about an appropriate treatment plan.

We spoke to Rocky Snyder, a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist based in Santa Cruz, California, who suggested a few exercises for people with scoliosis, as well as stretches that may help improve dexterity.

The difference between a typical spine and that of a person with scoliosis, he explains, is that the former can move from side to side. For instance, when you walk, your spine bends and rotates left and right, ultimately reverting back to the center. People with scoliosis have a difficult time moving in one direction due to the curvature of their spine.

Two re-educational stretches

Finding new ways to move can help restore some of the imbalances of scoliosis, Snyder says. He suggests two ways to do this. One is to drive your body in the direction it is already bending to stretch even further. This can cause the muscle you are stretching to pull back and slightly shorten. Scoliosis affects the ability of the central nervous system to help muscles contract and shorten. “You need to stretch them further to bring them to a shortened state,” says Snyder.

The second approach involves doing the opposite: If your spine leans to your left, simply lean to the right. This method, Snyder notes, doesn’t seem to work as well. The stretches are meant to help muscles that have gone lax. “Imagine taking a rubber band and keeping it stretched for a long time and then letting it go,” he says. “It wouldn’t know how to shorten back up again.”

Three exercises for scoliosis

The following exercises are targeted toward people with scoliosis. Exercise is important for overall good health, although for people with moderate or severe scoliosis, Snyder recommends a doctor’s assessment first.

Step down and one-arm reach

  1. With whichever leg appears longer when you lay on your back, step onto a small box or step.
    Lower the opposite leg down to the floor as you bend into the knee.
    As you descend, raise the arm on the same side as the lowered leg up as high as possible. For example, if the left foot is lowering to the floor, raise the left arm.
    Perform 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps on this side only. Do not perform the exercise on the other side.

Upward and downward dog

  1. In a prone plank position with your arms stretched out straight, push your hips back and up as far as possible.
  2. Hold this for 2 seconds, and then lower your hips back down toward the floor.
  3. Try to get as low as possible without giving yourself back discomfort or pain.
  4. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

Split stance with arm reach

  1. Step forward with the longer leg in front in a slightly exaggerated stride length.
  2. Keep your torso as upright as possible at all times.
  3. Begin shifting your weight back and forth, allowing the forward knee to bend as you feel the weight shift onto it.
  4. As you shift your weight forward, raise the arm that is opposite of your forward leg as high as possible to the sky.
  5. While that arm is reaching upward, reach the other arm back with the palm up as much as possible. This causes the torso and spine to turn toward the side of the forward leg.
  6. Perform this exercise only on that side. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

Types of scoliosis

Certain exercises may be prescribed by a physician or physical therapist to help you with your specific structural difference, but they are not a means for treatment. Treatment for moderate to severe scoliosis will most likely involve surgery.

Mild scoliosis, however, will usually not require significant medical attention and is not as visible to the eye as other posture disorders. Mild scoliosis is generally the term used to describe scoliosis where the Cobb angle, or curvature of the spine, is less than 20 degrees. Mild scoliosis is the most responsive to exercise treatment.

Moderate scoliosis may be treated with exercise too, but wearing a medically prescribed brace is sometimes recommended as well. Moderate scoliosis may develop into severe scoliosis, defined as a spine curvature between 40 and 45 degrees. Severe scoliosis usually needs to be corrected with spinal surgery.

Managing your scoliosis

Mild scoliosis is often managed simply with exercise, medical observation, and scoliosis-specific physical therapy. For some people with scoliosis, yoga is also recommended to decrease their pain level and increase flexibility.

Moderate scoliosis often involves bracing to stop the spine from curving further. Depending on the curvature of the spine, your doctor might recommend increased medical observation or other treatment methods.

Once the spine reaches a certain curvature, and once the person with scoliosis reaches a certain age, surgery becomes the most recommended treatment option. Surgery to correct scoliosis can take several forms and depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • the way that your spine is shaped
  • how tall you are
  • whether or not other parts of your body have been severely impaired by the growth of your spine

Takeaway

Exercise is being recommended more and more as a treatment for mild to moderate scoliosis. By being proactive and performing these exercises, you may be able to slow the curvature of your spine and decrease the pain you feel as a result of your scoliosis. Pilates and yoga routines geared specifically toward those who have impaired spinal flexibility can also serve as a treatment to lessen pain. It’s important to always get the opinion of your orthopedist before beginning a scoliosis treatment regimen, even one that involves simple exercises. This ensures that you won’t be harming your skeletal system by performing these exercises.

Spinal curvatures

Deformities of the spine: Lordosis, Kyphosis, and Scoliosis

ICD-9: 737.20 LORDOSIS

ICD-9: 737.10 KYPHOSIS

ICD-9: 737.30 SCOLIOSIS

Video: How to Correct a Scoliosis With Exercise and Stretching

Description

⚡ Lordosis ⚡ is an abnormal inward curvature of the lumbar or lower spine. This condition is commonly called “swayback.” Kyphosis is an abnormal outward curvature of the upper thoracic vertebrae. Commonly, this curvature is known as “humpback” or “round back.” Scoliosis is an abnormal sideward curvature of the spine to either the left or right. Some rotation of a portion of the vertebral column also may occur. Scoliosis often occurs in combination with kyphosis and lordosis. These three spinal deformities may affect children as well as adults.

Spinal curvatures

FIGURE. Spinal curvatures

Etiology

Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis may be caused by a variety of problems, including congenital spinal defects, poor posture, a discrepancy in leg lengths (especially in scoliosis), and growth retardation or a vascular disturbance in the epiphysis of the thoracic vertebrae during periods of rapid growth. Kyphosis may be the result of collapsed vertebrae from degenerative arthritis, or it may occur following a history of excessive sport activity. Obesity and osteoporosis can be contributing factors for lordosis. These three spinal deformities also may result from tumors, trauma, infection, osteoarthritis, tuberculosis, endocrine disorders such as Cushing disease, prolonged steroid therapy, and degeneration of the spine associated with aging. Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis also may be idiopathic.

Signs and Symptoms

The onset of lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis frequently is insidious. Signs and symptoms may eventually include chronic fatigue and backache. Scoliosis is often detected by individuals when they notice that their clothing seems longer on one side than on the other. Or they may notice when looking in a mirror that the height of their hips and shoulders appears uneven.

Diagnostic Procedures

Physical examination and anterior, posterior, and lateral x-rays of the spine are the most commonly used procedures to detect these spinal deformities.

Treatment

Treatment varies according to the nature and severity of the spinal curvature, the age of onset, and the underlying cause of the disorder. The goal is to slow the progression of the disease. Physical therapy, exercise, and back braces may all play a role in the treatment of these conditions. Spinal bracing, if closely watched and properly constructed and fitted, may be able to halt the progression of the curve in scoliosis. Surgery may be necessary, however, in cases of adolescent scoliosis if the curvature seriously interferes with mobility or breathing. Spinal fusion, using bone grafts and metal rods, is sometimes performed to straighten the spine in this situation. Surgery is rarely necessary for correction of kyphosis. Analgesics may be prescribed to alleviate the pain that frequently accompanies these disorders.

Complementary Therapy

Kyphosis may respond well to massage. Physical therapy and exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles can decrease lumbar lordosis. Hamstring stretch can reduce muscle contractures, or a permanent shortening of muscle. Stress proper posture. In scoliosis, it is helpful for individuals to turn their whole body, rather than just their head, when looking to the side; yoga is helpful to some.

CLIENT COMMUNICATION

Emotional support is essential. Instruct clients on the use of any brace and to avoid vigorous sports. Meticulous skin care is important to prevent irritation and skin breakdown due to the brace rubbing against the skin.

Prognosis

The prognosis of an individual with lordosis, kyphosis, or scoliosis depends on the underlying cause of the particular disease, how early it is detected, and whether it responds to treatment. In some cases, a spinal deformity may be arrested but not corrected. Pulmonary insufficiency, degenerative arthritis of the spine, and sciatica may arise as complications of spinal deformities.

Prevention

Prevention of lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis includes correction of any underlying cause and maintaining good posture. Weight loss can reduce the risk of lordosis. Scoliosis screening in public schools is mandated by law in some states.

Lordosis

 

Lordosis Exercises: For Core and Hips

Hyperlordosis, simply referred to as lordosis, is an excessive inward curvature of the lower back, sometimes referred to as swayback.

It can occur in people of all ages and is more common in young children and women. It may occur in women during and after pregnancy, or in people who sit for extended periods of time. It can cause symptoms like low back pain, nerve problems, and is associated with more serious conditions like spondylolisthesis.

In some people, lordosis is caused by poor pelvis position. When the pelvis tilts too far forward, it affects the curvature of the lower back, causing the person to look like they are sticking their bottom out. A small amount of lordosis is normal, but an excessive curve can cause problems over time.

Lordosis is often due to an imbalance between the muscles surrounding the pelvic bones. Weak muscles used to lift the leg forward (hip flexors) combined with tight muscles used to arch the back (back extensors), can cause an increased pelvic tilt, limiting movement of the lower back.

One case study found that strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles can assist in pulling the pelvis into proper alignment, improving lordosis. This can help decrease pain, increase function, and improve ability to do everyday activities with ease.

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Sitting Pelvic Tilts on Ball

This exercise helps bring awareness to the position of the pelvis, as well as stretches and strengthens the abdominals and back extensor muscles.

Equipment needed: exercise ball

Muscles worked: rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus, and erector spinae

  1. Sit on an exercise ball with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, shoulders back, and spine neutral.
  2. Pick a ball that allows your knees to be at a 90-degree angle when you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Tilt your hips and round your lower back by contracting your abdominals. Feel as if you are trying to bring your pubic bone to your bellybutton. Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Tilt your hips in the opposite direction and arch your back. Feel as if you are sticking your tailbone out. Hold for 3 seconds.
  5. Repeat 10 times, alternating directions.
  6. Complete 3 sets.

Ab Crunches with Transverse Abdominus (TA) Activation

Strengthening the abdominals can contribute to better pelvic alignment in people with a forward tilted pelvis.

Equipment needed: mat

Muscles worked: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominus

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest.
  2. Breathe in. As you breathe out, pull your bellybutton to your spine, engaging your transverse abdominus muscles, the muscle that wraps around your midline like a corset.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor to do a crunch, while maintaining the contraction in your abdominals.
  4. Return to starting position, relax, and repeat 10 times.
  5. Complete 3 to 5 sets.

Dead Bugs

This dynamic core exercise helps people maintain a stable spine during movements of the legs and arms. It targets the transverse abdominus muscle, which is essential for spine stabilization.

Equipment needed: mat

Muscles worked: transverse abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, and hip flexors

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs pointing straight up away from the body.
  2. Take a deep breath in and when you exhale, pull your bellybutton to your spine and feel as if you are flattening your back toward the floor without moving the hips.
  3. Lower your left arm and right leg at the same time until they are hovering a few inches above the ground.
  4. Return to starting position and repeat on other side. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Complete 3 to 5 sets.

Hip Extensions with Drawing in Maneuver

This exercise can increase strength and stability in the muscles of the lower back and pelvic region, decreasing lordosis.

Equipment needed: mat

Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, hamstring, erector spinae

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your arms comfortable by your side or tucked under your head. Extend your legs straight behind you.
  2. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, draw your bellybutton towards your spine, engaging your core muscles.
  3. Ideally you should feel as if you are trying to lift your belly off the mat without moving the spine.
  4. While holding this contraction, lift 1 leg off the mat about 6 inches. Focus on engaging the large muscles of the buttocks.
  5. Hold for 3 seconds, return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Repeat on other leg. Complete 3 sets on each side.

Hamstring Curl

The hamstrings are the large muscles that run down the back of the thigh. Strong and flexible hamstrings can help support neutral pelvic alignment.

Equipment needed: resistance band

Muscles worked: hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris), calf muscles (gastrocnemius), and hip flexors (sartorius, gracilis, and popliteus)

  1. Tie a resistance band into a loop around a pole or sturdy object.
  2. Lie flat on your stomach with your feet a foot or two away from the pole.
  3. Loop the band around your ankle.
  4. Bend your knee and pull your ankle towards your buttocks away from the pole.
  5. Try to isolate the movement to the working leg, keeping everything else as still as possible. You should feel the movement down the back of the thigh.
  6. Repeat 15 times, then repeat on other side.
  7. Complete 3 sets on each side.

The Takeaway

Correcting poor posture and excessive lordosis can prevent more severe conditions of the back and spine. A 2015 study looked at the effects of lumbar stabilization exercises on the function and angle of lordosis in people with chronic low back pain. They found that stabilization exercises, like the ones described above, are more effective than conservative treatment for improving function and angle of curvature in the back.

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure it is right for you. If these exercises cause an increase in pain, stop immediately and seek help. Pain or difficulty with movement associated with excessive lordosis can be a sign of a more serious condition and should be evaluated by a doctor or chiropractor. Rare cases of lumbar hyperlordosis may require surgery and cannot be treated with exercise alone.

Kyphoscoliosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What is kyphoscoliosis?

Kyphoscoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine on two planes: the coronal plane, or side to side, and the saggital plane, or back to front. It’s a combined spinal abnormality of two other conditions: kyphosis and scoliosis.

Scoliosis causes the spine to curve abnormally on the coronal plane, meaning it twists sideways. Kyphosis causes the spine to curve abnormally on the saggital plane, meaning it twists forward or backward, similar to a hunchback. People with kyphoscoliosis have a spine that curves both to the side and forward or backward at the same time.

This condition can occur at any age, including at birth. According to a case report about the condition, 80 percent of cases are idiopathic. This means there’s no known cause of the condition.

Symptoms of kyphoscoliosis vary. Sometimes people with the condition may only have an abnormal hunch or slouch. In more severe cases, there can be negative effects on the lungs and heart. The muscles may not be able to function properly for day-to-day activities.

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What causes kyphoscoliosis?

Many cases of this condition have no known cause. In other cases, this spinal condition is the result of:

  • Prolonged bad posture. Poor posture over time may result in postural kyphoscoliosis. It can be treated with extensive physical therapy.
  • Tuberculosis (TB). TB can weaken the spine.
  • Osteochondrodysplasia. This is a type of skeletal dysplasia, a condition that impairs the growth of spinal bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
  • Degenerative diseases. Examples include osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (OA).

People 50 years of age and older are likely to develop this spinal abnormality if degenerative diseases like OA are already present.

What are the symptoms?

The most obvious physical symptom of kyphoscoliosis is a hunched or uneven back. This spinal condition comes with a number of other mild symptoms, including:

  • hunched back
  • uneven shoulder blades
  • arms or legs longer on one side
  • body image issues

In more severe cases, kyphoscoliosis can affect the lungs, nerves, and other organs. More severe symptoms include:

  • disfigurement
  • back pain
  • trouble breathing
  • weakness or paralysis
  • stiffness
  • fatigue
  • decreased appetite
  • neurological issues
  • heart issues

5 kyphoscoliosis treatment methods

Treatment for spine abnormalities can vary depending on:

  • severity of the spine curvature
  • ability to maintain a healthy posture
  • age
  • other medical conditions
  • impact on day-to-day routines

There are many noninvasive treatment methods for kyphoscoliosis. If these don’t work, however, your doctor may recommend surgery.

1. Checkups

Early detection of spine problems is key to preventing your condition from getting worse. It’s common for children to develop minor spine curvatures, which may never need treatment or will go away with age.

Still, it’s important to have regular medical checkups to monitor the spine for changes. Treatment will vary from one person to the next based on the severity of their condition.

2. Scoliosis bracing

As an alternative to surgery, doctors may recommend using a back brace. Bracing isn’t an effective treatment method for adults whose bones have stopped growing.

It’s important to note that bracing won’t cure scoliosis or kyphoscoliosis. It can help prevent any future damage, though. Braces are typically worn throughout the day. They become more effective as they’re worn more frequently.

3. Pain management

Spinal abnormalities and any other back injury can cause extensive discomfort, stiffness, and can impact day-to-day activities. Doctors may recommend cortisone injections and other pain medication to help provide temporary relief.

However, these medications can have major side effects if used too frequently. For that reason, injections are only provided once or twice a year.

4. Physical therapy

Active physical therapy involves exercises that increase spine strength and flexibility. The most effective treatment involves exercises meant to improve the spine’s range of motion and balance.

5. Surgery

If you have severe kyphoscoliosis, doctors may recommend surgical correction. While it may not be able to cure spinal abnormalities, spinal surgery can help prevent the condition from progressing and causing any additional harm.

A common surgical option is a spinal fusion. It’s a procedure that connects bones in the spine together with metal rods or screws to prevent independent movement. This allows old and new spinal material to form together.

Doctors can also install an adjustable rod. This is an option recommended for younger people who haven’t finished growing. This rod can be adjusted every six months to match the length of the spine.

As with any surgery, there are complications. They can include:

  • infection
  • nerve damage
  • inability to heal
  • excessive bleeding
  • paralysis

What’s the outlook?

It’s important to see your doctor if you notice symptoms of kyphoscoliosis. Early detection and treatment are key to recovery.

Kyphosis Exercises: Treat а Rounded Upper Back

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis occurs when there is excessive curvature of the spine, eventually causing a hump-like appearance in the upper back.

Between 20 and 40 percent of elderly adults experience kyphosis. The greatest change in the thoracic curve occurs in women between the ages of 50 and 70.

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Causes and treatment

Some of the causes of kyphosis include:

  • degenerative changes
  • compression fractures
  • muscular weakness
  • altered biomechanics

Dr. Nick Araza, a chiropractic wellness practitioner at Santa Barbara Family Chiropractic, says that he associates kyphosis with poor posture and bad movement patterns. He says that just 20 minutes of bad posture can cause negative changes to your spine.

As you spend time in a flexed (bent) position, your head begins to retain a forward position. This causes increased stress and weight on your spine and neck. The head should be directly over the body, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your ears.

By practicing proper posture and engaging in exercises to strengthen the back and neck, you can lighten the load. This will give your spine a break.

Why is exercise important?

Exercise, combined with good posture and chiropractic care, may help improve your rounded upper back.

Researchers looked at the effect of spinal extension exercises on kyphosis. They found that strong back muscles are better able to counteract the forward pull on the spine. That means exercises that strengthen the extensor muscles can decrease the angle of kyphosis.

The same study found that after one year of exercise, the progress of kyphosis in women ages 50 to 59 was delayed compared to those who did not complete the extension exercises.

Exercises to try

Araza recommends these five exercises to help prevent or improve a rounded upper back. Consistency is key. These exercises should be repeated a minimum of three to four times per week to see results over time.

Always consult a doctor before starting an exercise routine and be sure to listen to your body. If an exercise or stretch is causing increased pain, stop and seek help.

1. Mirror image

For this exercise, simply do the opposite movement of the posture that you’re trying to correct.

  1. Stand tall, against a wall if needed.
  2. Tuck your chin slightly and bring your head back directly over your shoulders.
  3. Feel as if you’re bringing your shoulder blades back and down. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Take a break if you begin to feel pain.

If it’s challenging to get your head to touch the wall while maintaining a chin tuck position, you can put a pillow behind you and press your head into the pillow.

2. Head retraction

This exercise is done lying on the floor and is great for the muscles of the neck that are often stretched out and weak.

  1. Pull your chin back toward the floor, as if you’re trying to make a double chin.
  2. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

3. Superman

  1. Lying on your stomach, extend your hands in front of your head.
  2. Keeping your head in a neutral position, looking toward the floor, lift your arms, and legs up toward the ceiling.
  3. Feel as if you’re reaching far away from your body with your hands and feet. Hold for 3 seconds and repeat 10 times.

4. Life extension

The goal of this exercise is to stretch the tight muscles of the chest and strengthen the weak muscles of the back.

  1. Begin standing tall, knees soft, core engaged, chest upright, and shoulder blades back and down.
  2. Once you find yourself in an ideal posture, raise your arms up into a Y position with your thumbs pointed behind you.
  3. In this position, take two to three deep breaths, focusing on maintaining this posture on exhale.

5. Thoracic spine foam rolling

  1. Lie on the floor with a foam roller under you, across your mid back.
  2. Gently roll up and down on the foam roller, massaging the muscles of your back and thoracic spine.

You can try this with your arms extended over your head in the life extension position described above. Do this for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The takeaway

By making small changes to take care of your posture today and prevent kyphosis, you can reap the health benefits for years to come. So, take a break from your phone, practice good posture, and work toward a greater quality of life.

Kyphosis: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

What Causes Kyphosis?

Kyphosis, also known as roundback or hunchback, is a condition in which the spine in the upper back has an excessive curvature. The upper back, or thoracic region of the spine, is supposed to have a slight natural curve. The spine naturally curves in the neck, upper back, and lower back to help absorb shock and support the weight of the head. Kyphosis occurs when this natural arch is larger than normal.

If you have kyphosis, you may have a visible hump on your upper back. From the side, your upper back may be noticeably rounded or protruding. In addition, people with hunchback appear to be slouching and have noticeable rounding of the shoulders. Kyphosis can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain. It may also cause breathing difficulties due to pressure put on the lungs.

Kyphosis in elderly women is known as dowager’s hump.

Common causes of kyphosis

Kyphosis can affect people of any age. It rarely occurs in newborns because it’s usually caused by poor posture. Kyphosis caused by poor posture is called postural kyphosis.

Other potential causes of kyphosis include:

  • aging, especially if you have poor posture
  • muscle weakness in the upper back
  • Scheuermann’s disease, which occurs in children and has no known cause
  • arthritis or other bone degeneration diseases
  • osteoporosis, the loss of bone strength due to age
  • injury to the spine
  • slipped discs
  • scoliosis, or spinal curvature

The following conditions less commonly lead to kyphosis:

  • infection in the spine
  • birth defects, such as spina bifida
  • tumors
  • diseases of the endocrine system
  • diseases of the connective tissues
  • polio
  • Paget’s disease
  • muscular dystrophy

When to seek treatment for kyphosis

You should seek treatment if your kyphosis is accompanied by:

  • pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • fatigue

Much of our bodily movement depends on the health of the spine, including our:

  • flexibility
  • mobility
  • activity

Getting treatment to help correct the curvature of your spine may help you reduce the risk of complications later in life, including arthritis and back pain.

Treating kyphosis

Treatment for kyphosis will depend on its severity and underlying cause. Here are some of the more common causes and treatments:

  • Scheuermann’s disease: A child may receive physical therapy, braces, or corrective surgery.
  • Infection: Your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics for you.
  • Tumors: Typically, tumors are only removed if there’s concern for spinal cord compression. If this is present, the surgeon may try to remove the tumor, but frequently this destabilizes the bone. In such cases, a spinal fusion is often also necessary.
  • Osteoporosis: It’s essential to treat bone deterioration to prevent kyphosis from worsening.
  • Poor posture: You will not need aggressive treatments.

The following treatments may help relieve the symptoms of kyphosis:

  • medication, to relieve pain, if necessary
  • physical therapy, to help build strength in the core and back muscles
  • yoga, to increase body awareness and build strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • weight loss, to relieve excess burden on the spine
  • braces, especially in children and teens
  • surgery, in severe cases

Risks of untreated kyphosis

For most people, kyphosis does not cause serious health problems. This is dependent on the cause of the kyphosis. If kyphosis is caused by poor posture, you may suffer from pain and breathing difficulties. These will only get worse later in life.

You can treat kyphosis early by:

  • strengthening the muscles of the back
  • seeing a physical therapist

Your goal will be to improve your posture long-term to decrease pain and other symptoms.

Hyperlordosis: Treatment, Prevention, and More

What’s hyperlordosis?

Human spines are naturally curved, but too much curve can cause problems. Hyperlordosis is when the inward curve of the spine in your lower back is exaggerated. This condition is also called swayback or saddleback.

Hyperlordosis can occur in all ages, but it’s rare in children. It’s a reversible condition.

Keep reading to learn about the symptoms and causes of hyperlordosis and how it’s treated.

What are the symptoms of hyperlordosis?

If you have hyperlordosis, the exaggerated curve of your spine will cause your stomach to thrust forward and your bottom to push out. From the side, the inward curve of your spine will look arched, like the letter C. You can see the arched C if you look at your profile in a full-length mirror.

You may have lower back pain or neck pain, or restricted movement. There’s limited evidence connecting hyperlordosis to lower back pain, however.

Most hyperlordosis is mild, and your back remains flexible. If the arch in your back is stiff and doesn’t go away when you lean forward, there may be a more serious problem.

What causes hyperlordosis?

Bad posture is the most frequent cause of hyperlordosis. Other factors that may contribute to hyperlordosis are:

  • obesity
  • wearing high-heeled shoes for extended periods
  • spinal injury
  • neuromuscular diseases
  • rickets
  • sitting or standing for extended periods
  • weak core muscles

For pregnant women, a 2007 study found that hyperlordosis is the way that the female spine has evolved to adjust to the additional weight of the baby.

You can check your posture with a simple test:

  • Stand up straight against a wall. Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and your heels about 2 inches from the wall.
  • Your head, shoulder blades, and bottom should touch the wall. There should be just enough space to slip your hand between the wall and the small of your back.
  • With hyperlordosis, there will be more than one hand space between the wall and your back.

When do you see a doctor for hyperlordosis?

Most cases of hyperlordosis don’t require special medical care. You can correct your posture on your own. You’ll need to do some regular exercises and stretches to help keep up good posture.

If you have pain or your hyperlordosis is rigid, see a doctor to determine the cause. Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may refer you to a back specialist or a physical therapist. Sometimes hyperlordosis can be a sign of a pinched nerve, loss of bone in the spine, or a damaged disk.

Your doctor will do a physical examination. They’ll ask you when your pain started and how it has affected your daily activities.

Your doctor may also take X-rays or other imaging of your spine to aid in diagnosis. You may also have a neurological exam and other tests.

What kinds of treatment are available for hyperlordosis?

Your treatment plan will depend on your doctor’s diagnosis. In most cases, treatment will be conservative. In rare cases, surgery may be required.

Conservative treatment may include:

  • over-the-counter remedies for pain, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve)
  • a weight loss program
  • physical therapy

Children and teens with hyperlordosis may need to wear a brace to guide spinal growth.

Exercises to try

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. They may also give you a set of exercises to do on your own to help your posture.

There are many kinds of exercises and stretches to choose from, depending on your age and your level of fitness. Yoga and chair yoga are good choices. The important thing is to develop an exercise routine that you can stick to. You should also be aware of keeping good posture when sitting, standing, or engaging in activities.

Here are some simple posture exercises that require no equipment:

  • Move your shoulders forward and up toward your ears and then back down, pushing out toward your back.
  • Stretch your arms out at your sides at shoulder height, and roll them in small circles.
  • Standing up, squat as though you were sitting in a chair.
  • Standing tall, place one hand over your ear. Rest the other hand and arm flat at your side. Lean in the direction opposite to the covered ear.

What is the outlook for hyperlordosis?

Most hyperlordosis is the result of poor posture. Once you’ve corrected your posture, the condition should resolve itself.

The first step is to be aware of your posture during your normal daily routine. Once you know what it feels like to stand and sit properly, keep it up. You should see results right away, even if it seems awkward at first.

Develop an exercise and stretching routine that you do daily. Consult with your doctor if you’re not sure about the appropriate level of activity for you.

Post reminders to yourself to sit or stand straight. Ask your friends and family to tell you when they see you slouching or hunched over at your computer.

Good posture takes vigilance until it becomes automatic.

What can you do to prevent hyperlordosis?

You can often prevent hyperlordosis by practicing correct posture. Keeping your spine correctly aligned will prevent stress on your neck, hips, and legs that could lead to problems later in life. Here are some more tips to help prevent this condition:

  • If you’re concerned with weight management, start a weight loss program. Talk to your doctor if you need help getting started.
  • If you sit a lot during the day, take small breaks to get up and stretch.
  • If you have to stand for a long time, periodically shift your weight from one foot to the other, or from your heels to your toes.
  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Use a pillow or rolled towel to support your lower back when sitting.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Stick to an exercise program of your choice.

Lordosis: Causes, Treatments, and Risks

What is lordosis?

Everyone’s spine curves a little in your neck, upper back, and lower back. These curves, which create your spine’s S shape, are called the lordotic (neck and lower back) and kyphotic (upper back). They help your body:

  • absorb shock
  • support the weight of the head
  • align your head over your pelvis
  • stabilize and maintain its structure
  • move and bend flexibly

Lordosis refers to your natural lordotic curve, which is normal. But if your curve arches too far inward, it’s called lordosis, or swayback. Lordosis can affect your lower back and neck. This can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain and discomfort. It can affect your ability to move if it’s severe and left untreated.

Treatment of lordosis depends on how serious the curve is and how you got lordosis. There’s little medical concern if your lower back curve reverses itself when you bend forward. You can probably manage your condition with physical therapy and daily exercises.

But you should see a doctor if the curve remains the same when you bend forward. Read on to find out what lordosis looks like and how your doctor will diagnose for it.

Common causes of lordosis

Lordosis can affect people of any age. Certain conditions and factors can increase your risk for lordosis. This includes:

  • Spondylolisthesis: Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which one of the lower vertebras slips forward onto the bone below. It’s usually treated with therapy or surgery.
  • Achondroplasia: Achondroplasia is one of the most common types of dwarfism.
  • Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes a loss of bone density, which increases your risk of fractures.
  • Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that typically develops in the shinbone near the knee, the thighbone near the knee, or the upper arm bone near the shoulder.
  • Obesity: Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. This condition puts people at a higher risk for serious diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

What are the types of lordosis?

Lordosis in the lower back

Lordosis in the lower back, or lumbar spine, is the most common type. The easiest way to check for this condition is to lie on your back on a flat surface. You should be able to slide your hand under your lower back, with little space to spare.

Someone with lordosis will have extra space between their back and the surface. If they have an extreme curve, there’ll be a visible C-like arch when they stand. And from the side view, their abdomen and buttocks will stick out.

Cervical lordosis

In a healthy spine, your neck should look like a very wide C, with the curve pointing toward the back of your neck. Cervical lordosis is when your spine in the neck region doesn’t curve as it normally should.

This can mean:

  • There’s too much of a curve.
  • The curve is running in the wrong direction, also called reverse cervical lordosis.
  • The curve has moved to the right.
  • The curve has moved to the left.

What are the symptoms of lordosis?

The most common symptom of lordosis is muscle pain. When your spine curves abnormally, your muscles get pulled in different directions, causing them to tighten or spasm. If you have cervical lordosis, this pain may extend to your neck, shoulders, and upper back. You may also experience limited movement in your neck or lower back.

You can check for lordosis by lying on a flat surface and checking if there’s a lot of space between the curve of your neck and back and the floor. You may have lordosis if you can easily slide your hand through the space.

Make an appointment with the doctor if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as:

  • numbness
  • tingling
  • electric shock pains
  • weak bladder control
  • weakness
  • difficulty maintaining muscle control

These may be signs of a more serious condition such as a trapped nerve.

Lordosis in children

Often, lordosis appears in childhood without any known cause. This is called benign juvenile lordosis. It happens because the muscles around your child’s hips are weak or tightened up. Benign juvenile lordosis typically corrects itself as your children grow up.

Lordosis can also be a sign of a hip dislocation, especially if your child has been hit by a car or fallen somewhere.

Other conditions that can cause lordosis in children are normally related to the nervous system and muscle problems. These conditions are rare and include:

  • cerebral palsy
  • myelomeningocele, an inherited condition where the spinal cord sticks through a gap in the bones of the back
  • muscular dystrophy, a group of inherited disorders that cause muscle weakness
  • spinal muscular atrophy, an inherited condition that causes involuntary movements
  • arthrogryposis, a problem that occurs at birth where the joints can’t move as much as normal

Lordosis in pregnant women

Many pregnant women experience back pains and will show the signs of lordosis, a protruding belly and buttocks. But according to Harvard Gaze, research shows that lordosis during pregnancy is actually your spine adjusting to realign your center of gravity.

Overall back pain may be due to altered blood flow in your body, and the pain will most likely go away after birth.

How is lordosis diagnosed?

Your doctor will look at your medical history, perform a physical exam, and ask about other symptoms to help determine if you have lordosis. During the physical exam, your doctor will ask you to bend forward and to the side. They’re checking:

  • whether the curve is flexible or not
  • your range of motion
  • if your spine is aligned
  • if there’re any abnormalities

They may also ask questions like:

  • When did you notice the excessive curve in your back?
  • Is the curve getting worse?
  • Is the curve changing shape?
  • Where are you feeling pain?

After narrowing down the possible causes, your doctor will order tests, including X-rays of your spine to look at the angle of your lordotic curve. Your doctor will determine if you have lordosis based on the angle in comparison to other factors like your height, age, and body mass.

How to treat lordosis

Most people with lordosis don’t require medical treatment unless it’s a severe case. Treatment for lordosis will depend on how severe your curve is and the presence of other symptoms.

Treatment options include:

  • medication, to reduce pain and swelling
  • daily physical therapy, to strengthen muscles and range of motion
  • weight loss, to help posture
  • braces, in children and teens
  • surgery, in severe cases with neurological concerns
  • nutritional supplements such as vitamin D

What’s the outlook for lordosis?

For most people, lordosis does not cause significant health problems. But it’s important to maintain a healthy spine since the spine is responsible for much of our movement and flexibility. Not treating lordosis could lead to long-term discomfort and an increased risk of problems with the:

  • spine
  • hip girdle
  • legs
  • internal organs

How to prevent lordosis

While there aren’t guidelines on preventing lordosis, you can perform some exercises to maintain good posture and spine health. These exercises can be:

  • shoulder shrugs
  • neck side tilts
  • yoga poses, like Cat and Bridge pose
  • leg raises
  • pelvic tilt on a stability ball

Prolonged standing may also change the curve of your spine. According to one study, sitting significantly decreases changes in the lower back curve. If you find yourself standing a lot, due to work or habits, try taking sitting breaks. You’ll also want to make sure your chair has sufficient back support.

When to see a doctor for lordosis

If the lordotic curve corrects itself when you bend forward (the curve is flexible), you do not need to seek treatment.

But if you bend over and the lordotic curve remains (the curve is not flexible), you should seek treatment.

You should also seek treatment if you’re experiencing pain that interferes with your day to day tasks. Much of our flexibility, mobility, and daily activities depend on the health of the spine. Your doctor will be able to provide options for managing the excess curvature. Treating lordosis now can help prevent complications later in life, such as arthritis and chronic back pain.