Lumbar lordosis is a term used to describe someone who has an unusual spinal curve in the lower back. Understanding the causes and symptoms can help to alleviate lumbar lordosis pain.
All of us have slight variations in the shape and size of the curves in our back, but the term lumbar lordosis is used to explain a lower curve in the back that is flattened or that changes back posture. Some doctors simply refer to this as “flat back.” People who have this condition don’t stand up straight.
Causes of lumbar lordosis
Lumbar lordosis pain can really disrupt day-to-day activities. Often, back pain radiates to other parts of the body. There are different lumbar lordosis causes, including those outlined here:
- Excessive activities: Sports and physical activities that involve extreme back movements, such as gymnastics can lead to lordosis.
- Arthritis: In some cases, extreme arthritis can cause lordosis.
- Calcium deficiency: Can lead to osteoporosis, which can spurn lordosis.
- Bone cancer: Osteosarcoma may cause it.
- Spondylolisthesis: This is when vertebral bone slides out of its proper position and shifts to the lower vertebral bone.
- Increased BMI: Obesity can lead to lordosis.
- Kyphosis: This causes the upper back to become abnormally rounded.
- Discitis: Situations where there is inflammation in the disc space between bones and spine. This is often due to an internal infection.
- Achondroplasia: A condition linked to bone development that leads to dwarfism.
- Benign juvenile lordosis: This happens when unusual curving occurs in children, but the problem is often corrected naturally as the individual ages.
Although rare, it is also possible to get lumbar lordosis for genetic reasons or as a result of muscular dystrophies.
If a person has lumbar lordosis, their buttocks can appear prominent. There are also situations where a person may have the condition but not realize it for a long time. Sometimes, people can find lordosis on their own by simply laying down on the base of their spine on a flat, hard surface and then reaching under their lower back to see if there is a large gap.
Symptoms of lumbar lordosis
We have already mentioned lumbar lordosis pain, but what about other lumbar lordosis symptoms? When the spine curves in an abnormal way, the muscles get pulled in all different directions, so you can imagine how that might tighten up the back and cause it to spasm. This is pain that can radiate to the neck, shoulders, upper back, or even to the legs; however, the following symptoms may also signal lumbar lordosis.
- Electric shock pains
- General weak feeling
- Weak bladder control
- Difficulty maintaining muscle control
- Buttocks sticks out
- Problems with flexibility in lower spine
- Soreness when lumbar area is touched
For those who do a lot of running, lumbar lordosis can lead to symptomatic issues, including Achilles tendonitis, which means the tendon becomes inflamed. Achilles tendons can lead to bone spurs, thickening of the tendon, and limited range of motion. Being able to recognize symptoms early on is something that can prevent permanent damage for running enthusiasts.
Lumbar lordosis can also lead to sciatica if a person has the condition and it goes untreated for a long period of time. With sciatica, the pain can be worse in the legs or feet and is normally felt on one side of the buttocks or leg. This pain is usually noticeable after long periods of sitting and standing. In other words, movement actually improves the pain.
Diagnosis of lumbar lordosis
If you are experiencing back pain or other symptoms listed above, the doctor will likely want to conduct a physical examination first. Your forward bending posture and side bending posture will be checked. You will also likely be asked to lie down on a flat surface so the spine can be examined at different positions. A special measuring system is often used to determine joint angles. The measurements calculate angles from the spine, trunk, hips, and knees. This enables doctors to determine if the spine is in its natural place or if it has deviated from a natural position.
Some people have lumbar lordosis and don’t present any symptoms. For those who do have symptoms and find moving around difficult, a full physical examination, as well as the following tests, may point the doctor in the direction of the underlying cause.
- X-ray: A look at the vertebral column.
- Lumbosacral spine X-ray: For measurement of C-&-S1.
- MRI: A clearer view of the vertebral column.
- Laboratory tests: This includes blood testing.
In some situations, advanced motion-tracking computer technology has been used so specialists can track certain points placed throughout the body. Researchers are using the technology to study the effects of lumbar lordosis on people when they are in motion.
Treatment for lumbar lordosis
If you receive a positive diagnosis, the obvious issue becomes how to treat lumbar lordosis. Usually, minor cases do not require any special treatment. In severe cases, there are different lumbar lordosis treatment options.
Here are the typical treatments:
- Analgesic to lower pain
- Anti-inflammatories for inflammation control
- Lumbar lordosis exercises
- Back brace
- Weight reduction
- Electrical stimulation
- Vitamin D supplementation
- Surgical interventions
Lumbar lordosis stretches and other exercises have been known to lessen the discomfort associated with the condition. Bending the neck forward and backward as well as side-by-side for a few minutes a day can help some people. Hip stretching exercises and stretching the upper body parts can also be beneficial. There is also a lumbar lordosis exercise where you lay down on a flat surface and gently push the back of the neck down and then raise the neck about one inch from the surface.
Position awareness is something that many doctors promote for lumbar lordosis pain. This simply means that you develop an awareness of body positions and teach your brain how to recognize when you are in really extended positions. Having good core stability is required if you want to be able to stay in a slightly adjusted, comfortable posture. Physiotherapists are able to assist with this method of treatment.
Most specialists agree that loss of lumbar lordosis is possible when proper treatment, including doing suggested exercises, is maintained.
Prevention of lumbar lordosis
If you want to avoid lumbar lordosis, there are steps you can take to lower your chances of having this back problem. For instance, if you are an avid runner, wearing proper footwear, stretching and strengthening the calf muscles as well as increasing running intensity slowly can help prevent abnormal curving of the spine. It can also be a good idea to vary your exercises. So, if all you do is run, take some time to participate in another sport or do various types of exercises at your local gym.
Taking note of your posture is another way to maintain good spine health. If you notice your posture is off, immediately correct it. Consider talking to your doctor or physiotherapist about specific movements that can put you in a better posture position.
Some studies suggest that wearing high heels on a regular basis can push the spine out of position and lead to the symptoms associated with lumbar lordosis. One study published in Science Direct indicated that about 78 percent of women walk around in high heels regularly. The study also pointed out that 58 percent of these ladies complain about lower back pain and that heels between six and nine cm could potentially increase the chances of lumbar lordosis.
Controlling weight will also go a long way in preventing lumbar lordosis. Extra weight puts a lot of strain on the back, including the lower back. If your body mass index is at 30 or above, it might be wise to discuss a weight loss plan with your doctor.
Exercises for lumbar lordosis
Exercise is one of the most natural ways to treat the condition. Below you will find a number of different suggested exercises to help ease this lower spine problem.
Stability ball: Lie on your back with your calves draped over the stability ball. Squeeze your butt until a bridge position is formed. When you roll down, try to feel each vertebra touching the floor. The lower back should be touching the floor before the pelvis. Do 12 repetitions daily.
Knees to chest stretch: Lie on your back with your knees bent, lift both legs from the floor, and draw your knees to your chest. Once complete, lower one heel to the floor, keeping the opposite knee close to your chest. Rotate the other heel along the floor until your leg is straight. Complete eight repetitions each day.
Lower back stretch: Sit in a chair, lean your body forward, and place your head and arms between your legs. Try reaching your arms through your legs as far as you can and then return to the starting position. Repeat several times each day.
Kneeling hip flexor: Kneel and then put a foot out in front of you as if you are going to do a lunge. Lean forward a bit until you feel a slight stretch in the hip. Move in and out of the stretch if you are able.
Standing hip flexor: Lunge forward on one leg and extend one leg behind and try to feel the stretch in the hips. Alternate legs and repeat.
Foam roller: Take a foam roller and lie prone so you are aligning the hip flexors with the center of the roller. Now, allow your body weight to push into the roller then wait 30 seconds and alternate.
Gluteal activation lift: Tilt the pelvis, lift a leg slightly from the ground (about three inches) and then return the leg to the ground. Do ten on both legs.
There are exercises that you should avoid if you are suffering from lumbar lordosis, including, squat, military press, and the Roman chair sit-up. Once you are feeling better, you can consider such exercises.
Just because someone’s lower spine is slightly out of alignment does not mean they are destined for a life of pain and immobility. Many people are walking around right now not even realizing that they have lumbar lordosis. For others who have severe curving in the lower spine, exercises and other treatments give them the chance to live an active life. Meanwhile, researchers continue to investigate lumbar lordosis to gain further understanding of the spinal deformity and to come up with new treatments.