In our last article regarding kyphosis and lordosis, we discussed the basics of these two types of abnormal spine curvatures. Now that we’ve identified the different types and causes of certain spinal curves, we can explore the varying treatment options for those suffering from these abnormal spine curvatures. If you are experiencing symptoms of kyphosis or lordosis, you should seek a medical professional’s diagnosis and follow their suggested treatment options. In the meantime, we hope that this article will help you understand more about abnormal spine curvatures.
A Quick Recap: What are Kyphosis and Lordosis?
Kyphosis and lordosis are both abnormal curves of the spine. Kyphosis causes the spine to bend forward, giving the appearance of a “humpback” or rounded hump near the base of the neck. On the other hand, lordosis causes the spine to curve inward, giving the appearance of a swayback or exaggerated backward posture. Both kyphosis and lordosis disrupt the structure and alignment of the spine, which forces the muscles and tendons to overwork in order to provide the necessary support. There are different types of spinal conditions, such as kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis. Depending on the type and condition, the effects on the spine can be quite traumatic and painful. If your kyphosis or lordosis worsens, seek treatment to prevent further health complications.
What are the Main Causes of Kyphosis and Lordosis?
There are numerous causes and types of kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis. Each of these abnormal curvatures causes discomfort and can lead to worsened health conditions. Yet, they each affect the spine uniquely by curving it in different directions. Also, their causes differ, ranging from sports injuries to congenital disabilities. The cause of kyphosis, or the forward curvature of the spine, depends on the type you are diagnosed with. Postural kyphosis is caused by poor posture, leaning back in chairs, or carrying heavy bags. On the other hand, Scheuermann’s kyphosis is a problem in the spine’s structure. Congenital kyphosis develops in the spine before birth. Other causes of kyphosis include age or spinal injury. Like kyphosis, there are numerous causes for lordosis, including obesity, poor posture, or osteoporosis. In addition, trauma to the spine can weaken it and cause vertebrae to curve at extreme angles. Such trauma can lead to lordosis, as can some types of surgeries or pre-existing hip problems. Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy are other significant lordosis causes, especially in children.
How are Lordosis and Kyphosis Diagnosed?
Oftentimes, kyphosis is diagnosed in children during school scoliosis screenings or when their parents notice a rounding of their spine. The only way to have a complete diagnosis is to see your healthcare provider and seek treatment. Your healthcare provider will assess your spine through a physical exam or other medical evaluations.
A physical examination is used to diagnose both kyphosis and lordosis by looking at the spine curvature, balance, and range of motion. Through this examination, your health care provider can determine if there is an excessive curve of the spine, both inward and outward. To complete a physical exam, your health care provider will ask you to go into the “Adam’s forward bend.” Then, with your feet together, knees straight, and arms hanging free, your doctor can see any spinal curve or other spinal conditions such as scoliosis.
As with many medical checkups, a doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and family history. In addition, you will want to know if there is any known history of spinal curve disorders, including kyphosis or lordosis. Other conditions can also contribute to Kyphosis, such as Parkinson’s disease. If you have a severe curve, your health provider may perform a pulmonary function test to measure how well your lungs are working. A more extreme curve can compress or squeeze your spinal cord. Signs of spinal cord compression include numbness, tingling, bladder/bowel incontinence, and poor balance. Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disorder that can also cause spinal curvature. While it is most common in older women and people who have taken corticosteroids for an extended time, osteoporosis can weaken vertebrae and cause compression fractures.
If a patient is experiencing tingling, spasms, or bladder/bowel control issues, then a medical professional may recommend a neurological exam. Children and adults who experience these and other symptoms need to seek medical treatment. Lordosis can often be related to certain neuromuscular conditions. For example, children with conditions that weaken the nervous system or muscle functions, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, are prone to developing lordosis. By receiving a neurological evaluation, your doctors may be able to prevent the development of severe cases of kyphosis or lordosis.
A spinal X-ray measures the curvature of the spine and establishes whether it curves between 20 and 45 degrees (i.e., a healthy spine curvature) or above (50 degrees are enough for a kyphosis diagnosis). Sometimes, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan is necessary to get a better look at the spine. An MRI can produce very detailed images of the bone and tissue surrounding the spine, allowing a doctor to identify a spinal tumor or infection.
Is There a Cure for Kyphosis?
Physical therapy, posture correction, and bracing are some of the available treatment options for varying spinal conditions. However, the optimal treatment options vary depending on the severity and cause. For example, you can correct postural kyphosis by improving posture and learning about correct posture techniques. On the other hand, children with Scheuermann’s kyphosis are treated with back bracing or surgery.
Surgical Treatment Options for Kyphosis
If your kyphosis is causing pain or interfering with your regular life, you may require surgery. Surgery can reduce the curvature and relieve some kyphosis symptoms for those suffering from congenital or Scheuermann’s kyphosis. Spinal fusion surgery is the most common type of kyphosis surgery. Through this procedure, your surgeon lines up the vertebrae into a straighter position and bonds them together with small pieces of bone. During the healing process, the vertebrae fuse or join together, reducing the severity of the curve and better supporting your body.
Nonsurgical Treatment Modalities for Kyphosis
There are nonsurgical treatment options for less severe kyphosis conditions, such as postural kyphosis. Medical providers suggest regular X-rays during teenage years to monitor the curve’s progress. Stretching and exercise can strengthen backbones and abdominal muscles to relieve pain and improve posture, while anti-inflammatory medicines can relieve some back pain. Furthermore, your provider may recommend a brace for children who haven’t yet reached skeletal maturity. Can a chiropractor help with kyphosis? Yes, physical therapy and stretching exercises are some of the best nonsurgical kyphosis treatment options. Nick Araza, a chiropractic wellness practitioner at Santa Barbara Family Chiropractic, recommends five exercises to prevent or improve a rounded upper back:
Always be careful when stretching or exercising, and if any pain occurs, consult a chiropractor immediately.
How Long Does It Take to Correct Kyphosis?
If you do not treat mild kyphosis immediately, the curve will eventually worsen and cause further health complications. The time required to correct kyphosis depends on the severity and cause of the curve. Monitor more severe kyphosis treatment through physical therapy and regular appointments with your healthcare provider. The time it takes to correct kyphosis is different for every person. Therefore, it is impossible to give an accurate estimate as too many factors affect the correcting process. Unfortunately, even after treatment, your kyphosis can return, which is why you must regularly use posture exercises and stretches to keep your muscles healthy, strong, and flexible.
How is Lordosis Treated?
Similar to kyphosis, lordosis treatment options are determined based on the cause and severity of the curve. Treatment options include pain medications, physical therapy, weight loss, bracing, and surgery.
Surgical Treatment Options for Lordosis
Spinal surgery may be the only available treatment option if you suffer from severe lordosis. Generally, surgery is used to correct lordosis when there is nerve involvement or damage to the spinal bones.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Lordosis
There are several nonsurgical lordosis treatment options for less severe cases, depending on the cause. As with kyphosis, physical therapy is a useful tool for strengthening the spine and improving the range of motion. You can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to alleviate pain and discomfort. For children and teens, back braces prevent the curvature of the spine from worsening as they grow. How to fix lordosis with exercise? Several easy stretches and exercises can help decrease spine curvature by increasing muscle strength. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following stretches for those with abnormal spinal curvature:
How Long Does It Take to Correct Lordosis?
As with kyphosis, there is no accurate way to predict the time it will take to treat your lordosis. The cause and severity of the curve are two significant factors affecting the healing process. Everyone responds differently to the above treatment options, taking their own time to heal.
Can Kyphosis and Lordosis Be Prevented?
You can prevent kyphosis and lordosis through the following methods:
- Maintain good posture;
- Strengthen your back and core muscles;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Carry bags or heavy supplies in a sturdy backpack or roller bag;
- Exercise to strengthen your body and stay flexible.
We’re Looking Forward to Helping You at Our Chiropractic Offices in NJ!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, Hackensack, and Fairfield, New Jersey, are ready to welcome you. Also, feel free to access our blog page for more information on chiropractic treatments!