Lordosis (Swayback)

Lordosis at a glance

  • Lordosis also known as swayback is the abnormal inward curving of the lower back (lumbar spine).
  • Lordosis can be caused by a number of other conditions that affect the spine, as well as poor posture and obesity.
  • Symptoms include the inward curve of the spine, back pain and discomfort.
  • Treatment may include medication, physical therapy, bracing, weight loss, or spinal surgery.

Causes of lordosis

Lordosis develops from other conditions that affect the spine, as well as bad posture, hip problems, back surgery, or problems with the vertebrae from birth.

Conditions that cause lordosis include:

  • Spondylolisthesis, which causes one vertebra to slide out of position over another vertebra
  • Kyphosis, which causes an abnormal outward curving of the upper spine
  • Discitis, an inflammation of the discs that cushion the space between vertebrae, most commonly caused by an infection
  • Achondroplasia, which stunts normal bone growth (this condition is often associated with dwarfism)
  • Obesity, which causes the spine to support excessive weight

Symptoms of lordosis

The primary symptoms of lordosis, or swayback, are the prominence of the buttocks and a pronounced inward curve of the lower spine. This is evidenced by a large gap between the lower back and a hard surface when laying down that does not change when leaning forward.

Other symptoms can include back pain and discomfort, as well as difficulty moving in certain ways.

Treatment of lordosis

Treatment for lordosis may include medication to relieve swelling and pain, as well as physical therapy or exercise to help improve spinal flexibility and build muscle strength.

A back brace may be necessary to support the back or prevent the condition from worsening.

If obesity is the cause or is worsening the condition, weight loss may be another effective treatment.

Surgery for extreme lordosis, such as spinal fusion, is rarely performed.