Spine Curvature Disorders

Ordinarily, the human spine appears straight if viewed from front or back, but forms a gentle, elongated S-like curve when viewed from the side. This curve helps to keep muscles, bones, and organs properly positioned. Spinal curvature disorders, and the strain they can place on other parts of the body, can cause pain, disfigurement, loss of function, and even lung problems.

Abnormal curvature of the spine can be caused by congenital conditions, diseases, paralysis, poor posture, abnormal strain on the body, problems with other parts of the anatomy (such as uneven lengths of the legs), or muscle weakness. Understanding the cause of the curvature is vital to choosing an appropriate treatment.

Some common spinal curvature disorders are scoliosis, kyphosis , and lordosis. The abnormal curvature may be small and asymptomatic, or may become pronounced, interfering with activities, causing pain, and possibly constricting the lungs and shortening lifespan. Signs include one hip or shoulder higher than the other, leaning of the body, the head not being properly centered, or changes in the look or texture of skin over the spine.

Scoliosis is a group of disorders marked by an abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine. The vertebrae, or bones of the spine, may also be misshapen or in a twisted position.

Kyphosis (commonly called “hunchback”) can be caused by poor posture, which allows ligaments to stretch. It may also be caused by congenital conditions, or advanced osteoporosis.

Lordosis (commonly called “swayback”) may be caused by abnormal strain on the back associated with pregnancy or obesity, or by excessive tightness in the muscles of the lower back.

Options for addressing spinal curvature disorders might involve exercises, a brace, surgery, or, in some cases, simply monitoring the patient. Proper diagnosis is key to determining if or how an abnormal spinal curvature should be treated.

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