Lordosis: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Investigations, Treatment, Exercises
Lordosis is a condition where there is an increased inner curvature of the spine. Normally a human spine displays some amount of lordosis, but if it increases, then it poses a problem for the individual.
Definition of Lordosis
Lordosis is a condition where there is an increased inner curvature of the spine. The spine has a natural curve which is very mild and it helps the spine in its proper function. This natural curve is formed due to the shape of the individual vertebrae that make up the spine. If this spinal curvature increases, then it puts a lot of pressure or strain on the other regions of the spine resulting in pain.
Causes of Lordosis
There is a syndrome called as the lower crossed syndrome, in which muscles surrounding the hip and the spine become tense or weak along with getting stretched. All these different conditions of muscles such as tight and weak muscles result in muscular imbalance. The muscles which are usually tight are: Trunk extensors, hip flexors (especially the iliopsoas muscle) and these tense muscles need stretching.
The muscles which are usually weak and stretched are: Abdominal muscles (rectus rectus abdominis, internal oblique, and external oblique) and hip extensors (hamstrings and gluteus maximus).
Symptoms of Lordosis
Usually, patients with lordosis do not have any symptoms except for the exaggerated spinal curvature. Other symptoms which may appear according to the severity of the curvature are:
- Pain in the back.
- Pain may radiate down the legs.
- Changes in bowel and bladder, although this is rare.
- If patient has other problems along with lordosis, then the patient may experience developmental dysplasia of the hip, dystrophy of the muscles or neuromuscular problems.
Investigations for Lordosis
- CT scan
- Bone scan
- MRI scan
Treatment for Lordosis
- If the lordosis is mild, then treatment is usually not required.
- If the patient is experiencing symptoms or discomfort, then the patient can enroll in a physical therapy program where exercises can be done, under the guidance of a therapist, in order to strengthen the muscles and to increase the range of motion.
- Medications such as NSAIDs or pain killers can be used to decrease pain or swelling if any.
- If lordosis is detected during childhood, then braces should be worn to prevent further worsening of this condition.
- For severe cases of lordosis, which does not benefit from the above measures, surgery is required where the spine is straightened using metal rod, screws or hooks. During surgery, the bone grafting can also be done to promote new growth and to stabilize the spine.
Given below are some exercises for lordosis, but patients/readers should bear this in mind that these should be started under medical supervision or after the consent of their physician.
Corrective Exercises for Lordosis
Stretches for Lordosis
It is advised that the patient seek medical advice before starting any rehabilitation program or exercises.
Hip Flexor Stretch
- The iliopsoas muscle is the strongest hip flexor muscle and this exercise stretches this muscle.
- Place one knee on the floor.
- The hips should be slowly pushed forwards with the back straight.
- A stretch can be felt.
- Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times, many times a day.
Lower Back Stretch
- Lie on the back with the knees flexed.
- The knees should be pulled towards the back as much as is comfortable.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat 3-5 times, many times a day
Strengthening Exercise for Lordosis
Abdominal Crunch (simple)
- Lie on the back with the knees flexed.
- Place the hands up towards the knees and back down and raise the head and shoulders off the ground.
- Continue doing this exercise till the stomach muscles feel worked out.
- Rest for a minute.
- Try to do 2-3 sets.
Abdominal Crunch (difficult)
The intensity level of this exercise can be increased by placing the hands across the chest or adjacent to head. Never place the hands behind the head as this causes strain on the neck.
- Lie on the back with the knees flexed and the feet firmly on the floor.
- Place your hands on the side of your head.
- Lift your head and shoulders off the floor and while lifting, turn your upper body such that the right elbow is directed towards the left knee.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise with alternating left and right twists.
- Initially start with 2 sets of 10 reps and slowly increase to 3 sets of 20.
- Lie on the back with the knees flexed and feet flat on the floor.
- Slowly lift the buttocks and the lower back off the floor.
- Try to lift the buttocks as up as possible. You can feel the muscles in that region working hard.
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
- Initially start with 2 sets of 10 reps then gradually increase to 3 sets of 20.
- In order to increase the intensity level of this exercise, it can be done on a single leg.
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