Most cases of lordosis aren’t severe enough to cause symptoms or need treatment, but don’t ignore changes in your body. Talk to your provider as soon as you notice anything different about your neck, back or anywhere else along your spine.
Lordosis is the medical definition for the forward curved spine in your neck or lower back.
Your cervical spine (the medical name for the part of your spine in your neck) and lumbar spine (your lower back) are naturally curved a little forward, toward the front of your body. This naturally occurring lordosis helps you maintain your posture and absorb shock when you move.
Anything that makes those areas of your spine curve more than they should is called a lordotic curve.
Lordosis develops if your spine curves too much and pushes your posture out of its usual alignment. You might see lordosis that affects your lumbar spine called swayback. Remember, lordosis is normal in the cervical and lumbar spine. In the cervical spine, a 30- to 40-degree curve is normal. In the lumbar spine, a 40- to 60-degree curve is typical.
Your healthcare provider might recommend stretches and exercises to help improve your posture, but most people with lordosis don’t need any treatment. Children with lordosis usually grow out of it.
Lordosis, scoliosis and kyphosis are all conditions that affect the curve of your spine. The difference between them all is which part of your spine is affected, and which direction they make it curve.
Lordosis is an increase in the curve toward the front of your body that’s naturally part of your cervical and lumbar spine.
Kyphosis causes your thoracic spine (your upper back between your neck and the bottom of your ribs) to curve backward, away from the front of your body more than it naturally should. It makes people have hunched shoulders.
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Lordosis can affect anyone.
Some groups are more likely to develop lordosis, including:
Lordosis changes your posture. How it affects your body depends on where you have it.
If the curve in your spine is severe enough it might make it difficult (or impossible) to move your neck or back.
Many people don’t have any physical symptoms of lordosis. In fact, you might never know you have it until you’re diagnosed.
It’s usually easier for other people to notice changes in your posture, such as:
Most cases of lordosis are idiopathic — the medical definition for having no cause. They develop on their own. Swayback that affects kids usually has no cause. This can also be identified in people with increased thoracic kyphosis.
Some medical conditions can cause lordosis, including:
People who are pregnant are more likely to develop swayback too.
Your provider will diagnose lordosis with a physical exam.
They’ll look at your posture and check your spine for any unnatural curvature. They’ll check to see if the lordotic curve is flexible. If it moves with you when you bend your neck or low back you’ll be less likely to need treatments or surgery.
They might also screen you for scoliosis and kyphosis and other conditions that affect your back and spine.
If your provider notices signs of lordosis in your spine, you might need some imaging tests to help them know exactly what’s going on inside your body, including:
How lordosis is treated depends on where it is along your spine, and if it’s causing any symptoms.
Most people don’t need any treatment. If you have symptoms like neck or back pain, you’ll probably only need over-the-counter NSAIDs (like aspirin or ibuprofen) and stretching and strengthening to treat your symptoms. Talk to your provider before taking an NSAID for longer than 10 days.
You’ll likely need to visit your provider every few months to monitor the lordosis to make sure the curve hasn’t gotten more severe.
If the lordotic curve gets worse over time, or if it’s not flexible, your provider might suggest a few treatments, including:
You don’t have to stop exercising or playing sports with lordosis. In fact, staying active can help strengthen the muscles around your spine and help reduce some symptoms. If you need surgery to repair the curve in your spine, you might need to avoid certain physical activities while you’re recovering. Talk to your surgeon or provider about what to expect.
Visit your provider as often as they suggest to monitor any changes in your spine.
Following a healthy diet and exercise plan helps improve your overall health.
Talk to your provider if you notice any changes in your back, especially if you experience new symptoms like pain or a loss of feeling in your limbs.
You can’t prevent lordosis. It’s either idiopathic (it develops without a cause) or caused by another health condition. In either case, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from developing. Staying flexible and strengthening your core is the best way to minimize your risks.
Lordosis shouldn’t have a big impact on your life. Most people don’t need treatment for it. Even if you do, you’ll likely only need over-the-counter medications or exercises to improve your posture.
Kids who have lordosis usually grow out of it as their spine grows and develops with the rest of their body.
If you have back pain it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider.
Talk to your provider about how often you'll need follow-up visits. They’ll tell you how often they need to check the curve in your spine for any changes.
Visit your provider right away if you lose feeling in any of your hands or feet, or if you’re feeling tingling or shocks. These could be symptoms of other, more serious issues with your spinal cord.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Most people don’t ever think about their bones until they have a reason to when something is wrong with them. Lordosis is no exception to this rule, especially because you might never have symptoms or notice that your spine is curving more than it should. Even if it can be scary to think something is changing your spine without you even feeling it, lordosis shouldn’t have a major impact on your life, or your ability to do the activities you love.
Talk to your provider about any changes you notice in your back or posture.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2022.
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