Lumbar lordosis refers to the natural curvature of the lower back. While this condition does not always have serious symptoms, an over or under-curved lumbar can potentially lead to excessive pressure on the spine and other body parts, resulting in pain and discomfort. In this complete injury guide, we explain how to recognize and recover from lumbar lordosis issues.
The spine’s normal S-shape helps the body absorb shock, support the head, and maintain balance and flexibility. The lordotic curves are located in the neck (cervical lordosis) and the lower back (lumbar lordosis). The curve of the upper back is known as kyphosis.
When the lower back arches too far inward, it can affect movement and flexibility, and lead to varying degrees of discomfort. Lumbar lordosis is also called:
Anterior pelvic tilt
Loss of Lumbar Lordosis
On the other hand, a loss of normal lumbar lordosis results from a flattening of the lower back. It happens when the spinal disks compress at the front and stretch toward the back.
Loss of normal lumbar lordosis is also called hypolordosis and flat back syndrome. If you have hypolordosis, you may struggle to stand upright and your head will lean forward, away from your body. You may also experience pinched nerves in the spine.
Lumbar Lordosis Causes and Risk Factors
Lordosis can affect anyone, but some factors increase your risk of developing the condition. Causes and risk factors include:
Activities such as dancing and gymnastics
Muscle imbalances such as weak hamstrings, tight hip flexors, and tight lumbar muscles
Weight gain, especially around the middle (including during pregnancy)
A deficiency in vitamin D (mainly in children)
Spondylolisthesis, a spinal condition that occurs when a vertebra slides onto the bone underneath
Achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism
Osteoporosis, a bone disease that increases the risk of fractures
Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that usually occurs near the knee or shoulder
A type of childhood lordosis—benign juvenile lordosis—results from weak or tight hip muscles. This condition typically resolves as the child grows.
Loss of Lumbar Lordosis Causes
Hyperlordosis may result from anything that shortens the front of the spine. Causes include:
Sitting with poor posture
Injury to the back, such as whiplash
Degenerative disk disease, an age-related wear and tear of the spinal disks
Post-laminectomy syndrome, spinal pain in someone who previously had back surgery
Compression fractures in the back, which often result from osteoporosis
Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine
Lumbar Lordosis Symptoms
For most people with lumbar lordosis, pain in the muscles is the most obvious symptom. Abnormal spinal curvature causes the muscles to become strained and begin to spasm. As a result, you may notice your range of motion in your back is more limited and your muscles fatigue quite quickly.
Similarly, loss of lumbar lordosis may cause:
Difficulty standing upright
Sometimes, lordosis symptoms may resemble the symptoms of other back problems. It’s important to see a doctor to get a correct diagnosis as you may have a more serious condition, such as a trapped nerve.
To check for lumbar lordosis at home, you can lie down on a flat surface. Try to slide your hand between the curve of your back and the floor. If you can easily slide your hand through this space, you likely have hyperlordosis.
When you see your doctor for a formal diagnosis, they will take a full medical history and ask about your symptoms. They will also perform a physical examination to determine:
If your spinal curvature is flexible
Your range of motion
If there are spinal abnormalities or alignment issues
Depending on the outcome of the physical exam, diagnostic tests may be necessary. These include x-rays of the spine to see the angle of the curve in relation to your age, height, and weight.
Lumbar Lordosis Treatment
Many people wonder how to correct lumbar lordosis without surgery. Usually, hyperlordosis doesn’t require treatment unless it is severe or affecting your everyday life.
A flexible curve—where the lordotic curve normalizes when bending forward—does not require treatment. An inflexible curve, which remains even while bending, needs to be treated. The treatments you choose will depend on your symptoms and the severity of the curve. Options include:
Lumbar Lordosis Brace
A specialized lumbar lordosis brace is the only way to get complete, reliable lower back support. ( See Product at Amazon )
A lumbar lordosis back brace provides compression support for the lumbar region. It reinforces the natural curve of the lower back, helps you maintain proper posture throughout the day, and alleviates pain and discomfort. You can even wear a lumbar brace for most types of physical activity.
For home or the office, lumbar cushions ensure you get all day support for your lower back. ( See Product at Amazon )
Some research suggests that prolonged periods of standing can change the natural curve of the lower back. Break up long periods of standing with seated breaks. You should ensure to that your chair offers plenty of back support. If it doesn’t, try using a comfortable lumbar cushion to ensure correct posture and reduce lower back symptoms.
A digital scale can help anyone lose weight, making for a good defense against lower back problems. ( See Product at Amazon )
People who are overweight or obese can significantly decrease their lumbar lordosis symptoms by losing those extra pounds. Maintaining a healthy body weight also naturally helps you achieve better posture. To ensure you lose excess weight, and keep it off, schedule regular weigh-ins using an accurate digital scale.
Lumbar Lordosis Exercises
Daily physical therapy is an essential part of any treatment program for exaggerated lumbar lordosis. Specific movements can strengthen your back muscles and extend your range of motion.
Seated Pelvic Tilt
This exercise corrects anterior pelvic tilt.
Step 1: Sit down on a chair, with your back straight and your shoulders back.
Step 2: Pull in your bellybutton and tilt your pelvis backward by pressing your spine into the chair.
Step 3: Arch your back to return to the starting position.
This core exercise targets the transverse abdominus muscle, which helps stabilize the spine.
Step 1: Lie on your back with your arms raised toward the ceiling and your legs in the tabletop position.
Step 2: Inhale and, when exhaling, draw in your bellybutton and flatten your back to the floor. Do not move your hips.
Step 3: Lower your right arm and left leg simultaneously toward the floor, but do not touch the ground.
Step 4: Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position and repeat the movement with the left arm and right leg. Do three to five sets of ten repetitions.
Bridges work the hip flexors to support the back.
Step 1: Lie down on the floor with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle.
Step 2: Lift your hips off the floor by pushing through your heels. Make sure your knees, hips, and shoulders are in line. Hold for ten seconds.
Step 3: Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise twenty times.
This crunch works the oblique muscles and pulls the hips back to reduce the curve of the spine.
Step 1: Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your hands under your buttocks.
Step 2: Lift your hips off the mat by pressing into the floor and tensing your stomach muscles. Your feet should move up toward the ceiling.
Step 3: Return to the starting position. Repeat twenty to 30 times.
While diet alone may not ensure lumbar lordosis correction, it can stop the condition from getting worse, especially if it is linked to osteoporosis or other bone disorders. Bones need several important nutrients to stay healthy and strong, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
You may need painkillers if pain and discomfort are interfering with your daily tasks, sleep, or general well-being. Talk to your doctor about taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). While these drugs should not be taken long-term, as they cause digestive issues, they can be an effective short-term solution. Always keep track of your medication usage with a pill organizer.
Lumbar Lordosis Surgery
If spinal curvature is severe, a doctor may consider a surgical straightening of lumbar lordosis. Surgery may also be necessary if there is a neurologic aspect to your condition. A surgeon can recommend different types of back surgery based on your health, medical history, symptoms, and the x-ray results.
Loss of Lumbar Lordosis Treatment
Treatment for reduced lumbar lordosis is slightly different from the treatment for hyperlordosis. Many people with flat back syndrome enjoy relief using non-surgical remedies, such as:
Loss of Lumbar Lordosis Exercises
Regular exercise is typically the first step in treating hypolordosis. Make sure you work on your aerobic fitness, core muscle strength, and weight-bearing abilities. You can also try the following:
This exercise strengthens the lumbar muscles and encourages normal lordosis.
Step 1: Stand up tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders back. Hold dumbbells or a barbell.
Step 2: Lean forward as much as possible by pushing your buttocks out behind you. Let the weights run down the front of your legs, all the while ensuring that your back and knees are straight.
Step 3: Return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise ten to twenty times.
Seated Hip Flexion
This exercise is great for strengthening the hip flexors and pulling the pelvis forward.
Step 1: Sit in a chair with good posture and your feet firmly on the ground.
Step 2: Lift up one leg as high as you can, without straightening the knee. Hold for one second before lowering.
Step 3: Repeat this movement on the other leg to make one repetition. Do twenty repetitions in total. Wear ankle weights for a more challenging exercise.
NSAIDs including ibuprofen and naproxen offer temporary relief from the pain and discomfort associated with hypolordosis. Discuss the use of these drugs with your doctor before taking them, and stay on top of your dosing needs using a pill organizer and pill splitter.
If you also have arthritis or pinched nerves in your back, your doctor may give you a spinal injection for quick relief.
Surgery is rarely necessary for hypolordosis but people with severe cases or structural issues may require surgical intervention. Back surgery may also relieve nerve compression caused by lordosis issues. During surgery, the doctor will improve the alignment of the spine to reduce strain on the muscles in the hips, legs, and back.
Recovery and Outlook
Most people do not experience significant symptoms due to reduced or exaggerated lumbar lordosis. However, untreated lordosis issues could progress into long-term pain or lead to other problems in the back, hip, and legs.
Inflexible lordotic curves, that do not correct themselves when bending over, require treatment. Usually, your lordosis issues will resolve within three to six months of daily physical therapy and other home remedies.
To prevent lordosis, maintain a proper posture and look after your spine health. To do this:
Eat a healthy diet and take supplements if necessary.
Finding the Best Lumbar Lordosis Fix
Lumbar lordosis, or a loss of lumbar curvature, doesn’t always require treatment. But when it interferes with your life and well-being, it’s time to take action. A healthy spine means you can stay mobile and active right into old age. Heal and protect your lumbar curve with braces, cushions, posture correctors, and a regular exercise program.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle. Through her writing she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
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