Lordosis, also known as swayback, is a condition in which the spine in the lower back has an excessive curvature. The spine naturally curves at the neck, upper back, and lower back to help absorb shock and support the weight of the head. Lordosis occurs when the natural arch in the lower back, or lumbar region, curves more than normal. This can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain.
The easiest way to check for lordosis is to lie on your back on a hard surface. You should be able to slide your hand under your lower back, with little space to spare. If you have lordosis, you will have extra space between your hand and your low back.
Other potential causes of lordosis include:
- poor posture
- osteoporosis (weakening of the bones with age)
- discitis (a disorder of the disks between the spinal vertebrae)
- kyphosis (an excessive outward curvature at the mid-back)
- spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward or backward relative to the next vertabra)
- achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism)
If the lordotic curve corrects itself when you bend forward (i.e. the curve is flexible), you do not need to seek treatment. However, if you bend over and the lordotic curve remains (i.e. the curve is not flexible), you should seek treatment.
In addition, you should seek treatment if you experience any of the following:
- muscle spasms
- tingling or numbness
- bladder or bowel difficulties
Much of our flexibility, mobility, and activity depend on the health of the spine. Getting treatment to help correct the curvature can help prevent complications later in life, such as arthritis and chronic back pain.
Treatment for lordosis will depend on the severity of the curvature and the presence of other symptoms.
Treatment options include:
- Chiropractic care!
- physical therapy (to help build strength in the core muscles)
- yoga (to increase body awareness, strength, flexibility, and range of motion)
- weight loss
- braces (in children and teens)