(Swayback; Saddle Back)
DefinitionLordosis is a normal inward curve in the lower back and neck. Hyperlordosis, or swayback, occurs when the angle of the inward curve is exaggerated. The sooner hyperlordosis is treated, the better the outcome.
|The shadowed spine to the left shows ideal lordosis.|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
CausesThe exact cause of hyperlordosis is often unknown.
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your chance of hyperlordosis include:
- Achondroplasia —a genetic disorder that results in abnormal cartilage growth and dwarfism
- Spondylolisthesis —displaced vertebrae of back
- Neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy
- Congenital abnormalities of the spine
- Back surgery
- Hip disorders
- Poor posture
- Abnormal vertebral bodies—more commonly found in children with hyperlordosis
- Hyperkyphosis —an exaggerated outward curve of the thoracic spine
- Disc problems
SymptomsOften times there are no symptoms with hyperlordosis. Depending on the degree of abnormal curving, you may experience back pain.
DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the physical, your doctor may ask you to bend and move your back. Hyperlordosis can be seen during the exam. Some tests may be done to rule out or confirm other conditions that may be causing hyperlordosis.Your doctor may recommend imaging tests to see the spinal curve and the structures around it. These may include:
TreatmentFor mild cases of hyperlordosis, treatment is often not necessary. You may need additional treatment to resolve any underlying conditions that contribute to your hyperkyphosis. Your doctor may refer to you a specialist who treats spinal disorders.Options include the following:
Physical TherapyYour doctor may refer you to a therapist to learn specific exercises. Exercises may be used to strengthen muscles and increase range of motion. You may also be taught how to maintain a correct posture.
MedicationsMedications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given for discomfort or to decrease swelling.Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be given for discomfort or to decrease swelling.
Back BraceBraces are sometimes used with children. The brace can make sure the curve doesn’t worsen as they grow.
SurgerySurgery may be used when the curve is severe, progresses, or when other treatment methods fail. The goal of surgery is to correct the exaggeration of the curve. The spine is corrected with a metal rod, hooks, or screws in the back bones. Surgeons also use a bone graft to promote new growth and stability.
PreventionThere are no current guidelines to prevent hyperlordosis.
North American Spine Society
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Acute low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 22, 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Lordosis. Seattle Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/bone-joint-muscle-conditions/spinal-conditions-treatment/scoliosis/lordosis. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Lordosis in children. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1095/mainpageS1095P0.html. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Spine basics. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00575. Updated December 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Swayback (Lordosis). Cedars Sinai Health System website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Swayback-Lordosis.aspx. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Vialle R, Khouri N, et al. Lumbar hyperlordosis of neuromuscular origin: pathophysiology and surgical strategy for correction.Int Orthop. 2007;31(4):513-523.
- Reviewer: Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014