Curvature of the Spine


How is Curvature of the Spine Defined?

The backbone or spine is composed of the vertebrae with the small bones piled on top of one another. A normal spine has slight curves to it when contemplated from the side. The curves basically support the backbone and sucks up the stress due to gravity and the movement of the body.

curvature of the spine


When the spine is observed from the back, it should run straight throughout the middle of the back. If any irregularities of the spine is spotted like the curvatures of the backbone are somehow misaligned or overemphasized in some areas, it is not normal and should have medical attention.

Types of Curvature of the Spine

There are three major types of disorders regarding the curvature of the spine. These include:


abnormal curvature of the spine

Scoliosis

This is the type of disorder that leads to the unnatural curvature of the spine which is usually seen in girls than boys. Individuals with this disorder grow additional curves to the right or left side of the body, and the backbone forms an “S” or “C” shape due to the twisting of the bones. Scoliosis can be seen at any age whether it be an infant or an adult.

scoliosis

Lordosis

This disorder is also referred to as swayback or lumbar hyperlordosis wherein the spine in the lumbar section of the person with this disorder curves significantly inward. Individuals with lordosis are mostly observed with an arch in their lower backs that is visible forming a defined “C” shape.

These individuals will also look like they are purposely sticking out their buttocks and stomachs. To check whether an individual has lordosis or not, the person should lie on its back on a hard surface and try to slide one hand under the lower back. If there is extra space between the hand and the lower back, then the person is positive with lordosis.

Kyphosis

Also referred to a hunchback, is a disorder in which the thoracic area of the spine is excessively curved. The natural arch of the spine is larger than it should be in kyphosis. Individuals with this condition have a very noticeable rounded back and they will appear to be slouching.

What Causes a Curvature of the Spine?

There are numerous of problems that can be pointed out which causes the abnormal curvature of spine or be misaligned.

Below are some conditions that could cause lordosis:

  • Obesity
  • Achondoplasia – A type of dwarfism wherein the bones do not normally grow.
  • Osteoporosis – The wearing out of the bones that also becomes fragile due to age.
  • Discitis – The disc space in the middle of the bones of the backbone is inflamed.
  • Kyphosis
  • Spondylolisthesis – One vertebra slips forward.
  • Harmless juvenile lordosis that usually appears without any known cause.

Conditions that could cause kyphosis include:


  • Tumors and infections in the spine
  • Poor posture
  • Weakening of the muscles in the upper back
  • Arthritis
  • Scheuermann’s disease happens to children without any known cause wherein the vertebrae are misshaped.
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spina bifida – This is a birth defect in which the spinal column of the baby inside the womb does not completely close throughout the development period.

In most cases, physicians do not know as to what causes a scoliosis, but what they know is that scoliosis can be hereditary in nature and be acquired within the family. Other possible causes that can be determined are; infections, muscular dystrophy, injuries, cerebral palsy, and birth defects.

What are the Symptoms of Curvature of the Spine?

Symptoms depend on the type of the spine curvature disorder and how severe it is.

Symptoms of lordosis include:

  • Discomfort and pain on the back
  • Appearing swayback
  • Certain difficulties of moving
  • A big gap in between the floor and the lower back when lying on a hard surface without any changes even when bending forward

Symptoms of kyphosis include:

  • For individuals with Scheuermann’s kyphosis, long periods of sitting or standing can cause discomfort
  • The head is bent forward compared to other body parts
  • Fatigue in legs or back
  • The upper back forms a curve or hump
  • Scoliosis symptoms may include:
  • The hip or waist is not even
  • Shoulder blades are unequal with one being higher compared to the other
  • Leaning on one side

How is Curvature of the Spine Treated?

The treatment depends on how severe the curve is and as to which type of disorder a person has. Mild spinal curvature might not at all be treated. Other severe cases of people with spinal curvature may need surgery or a back brace.

Treatments for lordosis may involve:

  • Medications
  • Use of a back brace
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Surgery
  • Losing of weight

Treatments for kyphosis may involve:

  • Physical therapy and exercise to increase the person’s flexibility and strengthen the muscles
  • Use of  back brace
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Surgery

Treatments for scoliosis may involve:

  • Evaluation of symptoms
  • Bracing to stop the curve from getting severe
  • Surgery

The following surgical procedures might be used to treat spine curvature disorders:

  • Artificial disc replacement – Deteriorated discs are replaced with devices that are artificial.
  • Kyphoplasty – A balloon being inserted in the spine to ease the pain and stabilize the area.
  • Spinal instrumentation – Wires, rods, and hooks are secured to the spine in order for bones to realign and to keep them fastened following spinal fusion.

References

  1. Types of Spine Curvature Disorders : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Surgery at http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/types-of-spine-curvature-disorders?page=1#1
  2. What causes lordosis? 5 possible conditions at http://www.healthline.com/symptom/lordosis
  3. http://www.healthline.com -> kyphosis
  4. Per Trobisch, Olaf Suess, Frank Schwab; Suess; Schwab (December 2010). “Idiopathic Scoliosis”. Disch Arztebi Int. 107 (49): 875–884. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2010.0875 (inactive 2015-01-09).
  5. Kado DM, Prenovost K, Crandall C (2007). “Narrative review: hyperkyphosis in older persons”. Ann. Intern. Med. 147 (5): 330–8.
  6. Schuler Thomas C (Oct 2004). “Segmental Lumbar Lordosis: Manual Versus Computer-Assisted Measurement Using Seven Different Techniques”. J Spinal Disord Tech. 17 (5): 372–9.

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