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Can You Have Kyphosis and Lordosis?

Reviewed on 1/12/2021

What Is Kyphosis and Lordosis?

Kyphosis describes a spinal condition that causes a hump and hunched shoulders. Lordosis is an abnormal inward curvature of the spine. You can have both at once in different spinal regions.
Kyphosis describes a spinal condition that causes a hump and hunched shoulders. Lordosis is an abnormal inward curvature of the spine. You can have both at once in different spinal regions.

Kyphosis (also called hyperkyphosis or dowager's hump) describes an abnormal curvature of the upper back that causes a rounded or hunched back.

Lordosis (also called swayback) describes an abnormal inward curvature of the lower back (lumbar spine, just above the buttocks).

A person can have both kyphosis and lordosis at the same time.

What Are Symptoms of Kyphosis and Lordosis?

Symptoms of kyphosis include: 

  • A hunched or rounded back that might hurt or feel stiff
  • Belly may appear bigger even without weight gain
  • Neck or hip pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Acid reflux
  • Difficulty doing everyday things such as walking, standing up from being seated, dressing, and bathing
  • Difference in shoulder or shoulder blade height
  • Head bends forward
  • Tight hamstring muscles

Symptoms of lordosis include: 

  • Lower back pain that can affect the ability to move
  • Back pain or discomfort 
  • Buttocks can appear more prominent
  • When lying on the back on a hard surface, there is a space beneath the lower back and the surface

What Causes Kyphosis and Lordosis?

Kyphosis in children is caused by problems with the spinal bones (vertebrae). The main types of kyphosis include:

  • Congenital kyphosis: babies are born with this condition 
  • Postural kyphosis: occurs when children do not stand up straight or slouch (most common in teenage girls)
  • Scheuermann kyphosis: some vertebrae in the upper spine are shaped like a wedge instead of a rectangle, which causes the upper part of the spine to curve

Kyphosis in adults occurs because of problems with parts of the spine, such as:

  • Osteoporosis 
  • Degenerative disc disease 
  • Weak muscles in the lower back 

Causes of lordosis include: 

How Is Kyphosis and Lordosis Diagnosed?

Both kyphosis and lordosis are diagnosed with a physical examination of the back. This may include tests to measure the curvature that is present. 

Other tests used to diagnose kyphosis and lordosis and their causes include: 

QUESTION

Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer

What Is the Treatment for Kyphosis and Lordosis?

Treatment for children with kyphosis depends on the type of kyphosis present. 

  • Treatment for congenital kyphosis includes surgery to fix the vertebrae problems
  • Postural kyphosis may not need treatment. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the back can help.
  • Treatment for Scheuermann kyphosis includes:
  • Exercise to stretch and strengthen the back
  • Avoiding activities that cause pain
  • Pain medications
  • Back brace
  • Surgery (for severe cases)

Treatment for adults with kyphosis depends the cause and its severity and may include: 

  • Medications for osteoporosis
  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen the back
  • Pain medications
  • Surgery: reserved for cases in which a patient has trouble breathing or has severe pain that does not improve with medicines or other treatments

Treatment for lordosis includes:

  • Pain medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the back and to increase range of motion
  • Braces to control the growth of the curve, especially in children and teens
  • Weight loss in patients who are overweight
  • Surgery in severe cases
  • Spinal instrumentation
  • Artificial disc replacement
  • Kyphoplasty 

What Are Complications of Kyphosis and Lordosis?

Possible complications of kyphosis that is not treated may include: 

  • Pain with activity or with long periods of sitting or standing
  • Difficulty walking 
  • Compression of organs in the chest and abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Acid reflux
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Impact on heart function
  • Pinched nerves
  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling in legs and feet
  • Loss of balance
  • Bladder and bowel incontinence
  • Body image problems (especially in young people)

Complications of untreated lordosis include problems with the: 

  • Spine
  • Legs
  • Hip girdle
  • Internal organs

How Do You Prevent Kyphosis and Lordosis? 

Some types of kyphosis and lordosis may be prevented with proper posture and back exercises.

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Reviewed on 1/12/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/kyphosis-in-adults-the-basics

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/kyphosis-in-children-the-basics

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/scoliosis-in-the-adult

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/s/swayback-lordosis.html

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=kyphosis-85-P07816
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