What is Lordosis?
The spine has a natural, curved S shape, when it is looked at from the side. The lumbar spine and the cervical spine present an inward curvature, which is called lordosis. The curve itself bears this name, while the condition associated with the exaggerated accentuation of this curve is often called hyperlordosis, but the terms can be used interchangeably when referring to the condition itself, but not the curvature. On the other hand, the curve can also flatten or lead to straightening of the curve, leading to something called hypolordosis.
A lordotic curve in both the lumbar and cervical spine are natural and serve a number of functions related to posture and movement. In other words, a healthy spine also presents a healthy cervical lordosis and lumbar lordosis. Problems start to arise when these lordotic curves are altered in one way or another.
As previously mentioned, the lordotic curves of the spine can be affected mainly in two ways. On one hand, the curvature can be further accentuated, leading to a condition called hyperlordosis. On the other hand, the curve can also be flattened, leading to a lessening of the curvature, called hypolordosis.
Hyperlordosis in the cervical region is often caused by issues such as:
- Bone problems such as rickets or osteoporosis.
- Muscular problems, such as weak core muscles, imbalance in the strength of muscles and ligaments, or muscular dystrophy.
- Developmental conditions such as lack of vitamin D and a condition called Achondroplasia.
- Lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity and obesity.
- Most commonly though, it can be attributed to poor posture.
Hypolordosis, on the other hand can be caused by:
- Posture issues.
- Bone structure abnormalities, such as spondylolisthesis.
- Developmental factors.
- Lifestyle factors.
- Injury to the cervical spine.
Characteristics and Symptoms
Normally, the cervical spine has a soft C-shaped cervical curvature. Normal cervical lordosis, referring to this C-shaped cervical curve, is part of a healthy cervical spine and cervical alignment.
In cervical hyperlordosis, the spine can look like it has an accentuated C shape, where the neck is pushed forward, the thoracic spine is curved upward. This can often be accompanied by a notable poor posture, as well as neck pain.
In cervical hypolordosis, the neck loses some of its curvature, and can appear as if it’s straighter than usual. This can cause support issues for the neck, and can have your head tilt forward, while your neck has a stiff appearance. Pain, stiffness and tension in the neck can occur as a result.
A deformity of the cervical spine can also lead to other spinal disorders, such as disc herniation or pinched nerves, cervical myelopathy, as well as an imbalance along the muscles and tendons along the spine.
Treating any problems caused by either hyper- or hypolordosis depends largely on its cause. For example, if the altered curvature, as well as the pain are caused by lifestyle factors such as obesity, by making lifestyle adjustments, such as losing weight, the symptoms should gradually disappear as well.
In other cases, physical therapy and pain medication may be employed to reduce the pain and improve mobility of the cervical spine.
If the deformity is severe, and less-invasive options have failed to produce the desired results, surgery may be considered as an option, although it should be seen as a last resort, rather than a first option.
On the other hand, if the condition is not severe, but it does cause symptoms such as pain, stiffness, or loss of mobility and flexibility in the neck, upper back, or even beyond, you can resort to more natural treatment options.
One such solution is to engage in exercises that restore the mobility of your neck region, and which also reduce any compression that has resulted due to the altered shape of the spine. These are called spinal decompression exercises and can be performed safely from the comfort of your own home with the help of a spinal decompression device called the Backrack.