The spine is the main support and stabilizer of your upper body. It also protects your spinal cord, which is a collection of nerves that serves as a main conduit for messages between your brain and other parts of your body. When viewed from the front, the spine is supposed to form a straight line up and down the length of your body. When viewed from the side, it is supposed to follow a subtle yet distinct pattern of curves. The upper spine is supposed to curve slightly outward, which is called kyphosis. The lower spine is supposed to curve slightly inward, which is called lordosis.
Spine curvature disorders occur when the spine curves too far in a certain direction. These may be congenital, i.e., present from birth, or develop over time. Depending on the severity of the deformity, it may require a procedure, such as kyphoplasty Jacksonville FL to correct.
Scoliosis occurs when the spine curves out to the side in either a C-shape or an S-shape. It can occur at any age but is most likely to affect adolescents, for reasons that remain unclear. Scoliosis usually causes no pain, and nonoperative treatment options, such as bracing, are preferred. If these are not successful at correcting the scoliosis, however, surgery may be indicated.
A certain degree of outward curvature at the upper back is normal. However, when this exceeds 50 degrees, it is abnormal and is referred to as hyperkyphosis to differentiate it from normal kyphosis. Hyperkyphosis causes the shoulders to round, the back to become hunched, and the head to move forward. It prevents you from standing up completely straight. The most common cause of hyperkyphosis is compression fractures due to osteoarthritis.
As the upper spine is supposed to bend slightly outward toward the back, the lower spine is supposed to bend slightly inward. This, too, can progress to an abnormal level, and hyperlordosis is the result. Also called swayback, hyperlordosis gives the impression that a person is leaning too far backward. The cause is not always known, but sometimes it seems to develop in the setting of hyperkyphosis to compensate for the deformity of the upper back.
Compared to hyperkyphosis and scoliosis, hyperlordosis is relatively rare. It is more common for the spine of the lower back to lose its normal lordotic curvature and become more straight. This is sometimes referred to as flatback syndrome because that is what it looks like from the side.
Spinal deformities can make it difficult to move around or maintain posture. They can cause pain and fatigue from overworked muscles. In some severe cases, they may affect the function of your heart, lungs, or nerves.