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Hyperlordosis

(Saddle Back)

Definition

Lordosis is a normal inward curve in the lower back and neck. Hyperlordosis occurs when the angle of the inward curve is exaggerated. The sooner hyperlordosis is treated, the better the outcome.

Hyperlordosis
Lordosis

The shadowed spine to the left shows ideal lordosis.

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes  ^

The exact cause of hyperlordosis is often unknown.

Risk Factors  ^

Factors that may increase your chance of hyperlordosis include:

  • Achondroplasia —a genetic disorder that results in abnormal cartilage growth and dwarfism
  • Spondylolisthesis —displaced vertebrae of back
  • Neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy
  • Congenital abnormalities of the spine
  • Back surgery
  • Hip disorders
  • Poor posture
  • Abnormal vertebral bodies—more commonly found in children with hyperlordosis
  • Hyperkyphosis —an exaggerated outward curve of the thoracic spine
  • Osteoporosis
  • Disc problems
  • Obesity

Symptoms  ^

Often, there aren't any symptoms with hyperlordosis. Depending on the degree of abnormal curving, you may experience back pain.

Diagnosis  ^

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the physical, your doctor may ask you to bend and move your back. Hyperlordosis can be seen during the exam. Some tests may be done to rule out or confirm other conditions that may be causing hyperlordosis.

Your doctor may recommend imaging tests to see the spinal curve and the structures around it. These may include:

Treatment  ^

For mild cases of hyperlordosis, treatment is often not necessary. You may need additional treatment to resolve any underlying conditions that contribute to your hyperkyphosis. Your doctor may refer to you a specialist who treats spinal disorders.

Options include the following:

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may refer you to a therapist to learn specific exercises. Exercises may be used to strengthen muscles and increase range of motion. You may also be taught how to maintain a correct posture.

Medications

Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given for discomfort or to decrease swelling.

Back Brace

Braces are sometimes used with children. The brace may prevent the curve from worsening as a child grows.

Surgery

Surgery may be used when the curve is severe, progresses, or when other treatment methods fail. The goal of surgery is to correct the exaggeration of the curve. The spine is corrected with a metal rod, hooks, or screws in the back bones. Surgeons also use a bone graft to promote new growth and stability.

Prevention  ^

There are no current guidelines to prevent hyperlordosis.

RESOURCES:

North American Spine Society
http://www.spine.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://www.orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

REFERENCES:

Acute low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 25, 2015. Accessed December 1, 2015.

Lordosis. Seattle Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/bone-joint-muscle-conditions/spinal-conditions-treatment/scoliosis/lordosis. Accessed December 1, 2015.

Lordosis in children. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1095/mainpageS1095P0.html. Accessed December 1, 2015.

Spine basics. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00575. Updated December 2013. Accessed December 1, 2015.

Swayback (Lordosis). Cedars Sinai Health System website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Swayback-Lordosis.aspx. Accessed December 1, 2015.

Vialle R, Khouri N, et al. Lumbar hyperlordosis of neuromuscular origin: pathophysiology and surgical strategy for correction. Int Orthop. 2007;31(4):513-523.

Last reviewed December 2015 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS  Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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