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How hyperlordosis can cause low back pain

by Dominique Vanier, B.Sc.H., M.Env.Sc., on 18 October 2016, Muscle and joint
low-back-pain

Do you suffer from low back pain?

There are many causes of low back pain that are mainly due to muscular or structural reasons. Chances are, you are one of the 80% of adults who experience back pain at some point in their lifetime.

 The human spine has a natural S-shaped curve that is maintained by muscles, tendons, and ligaments which attach to the vertebrae of the spine. Lordosis is one type of curve, referring to the inward curves located in the neck and low back spinal regions.

These curves can become accentuated or flattened due to poor posture or other underlying health problems, leading to excess stress on the spine and chronic pain. Lumbar hyperlordosis – an excessive curvature of the low back – can result in moderate or severe low back pain, sciatica, and pose increased risk of injury to the spine.

 Low back pain – risk factors

Lumbar hyperlordosis can arise from a variety of risk factors. These causes include obesity, muscle imbalances, inflammation of the discs between vertebra (discitis), osteoporosis, lifting heavy objects without proper training, trauma to the low back, and spondylolisthesis – the forward slipping of a vertebra.

In some circumstances, hyperlordosis is advantageous. For example, pregnant women tend to develop some degree of hyperlordosis likely as a physiological adaptation to the anatomical changes that occur during pregnancy. Hyperlordosis could be an adaptive response as a woman’s centre of gravity changes with the growth of the fetus, as well as a compensatory response to the demand on the muscles surrounding her lumbar vertebral segments. Post-partum, this accentuated lordosis normalizes with correct posture and muscle strengthening activities.

Natural approaches to ease the pain

Luckily, there are many natural approaches that can help decrease hyperlordosis and resume normal spinal posture, and ease low back pain:

  • Determine the cause of your lordosis. Work with a medical professional to determine whether there is an underlying structural abnormality causing your lordosis, or if muscular imbalances and weaknesses are to blame.
  • Shed those extra pounds with proper nutrition. If a high BMI is the driving factor causing your hyperlordodic curve, ensure that eating a well-balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats is central in your weight-loss journey.
  • Stretch your hip flexors. The muscles located just below your hip bones – also known as your iliopsoas (hip flexor) muscles – often play a role in causing an anterior pelvic tilt of the hips. The hip flexor muscles become tight from passive, prolonged motions such as sitting at a table or desk for long hours. Because the origin of the psoas muscle is from T12 to L5 vertebra, it can pull the lumbar spine forward when it is extra tight, thus contributing to hyperlordorsis.
  • Resistance-based exercises that target your gluteal muscles, abdominal/core muscles, and hamstrings can help add stability to your lumbar spine and prevent hyperlordosis. Pairing resistance-based exercises with stretching tighter muscles that are associated with hyperlordosis, including low back extensor muscles and hip flexors, may also be of benefit.
  • Obtain symptomatic relief. If your hyperlordosis is causing you pain, try applying Arnica gel to your low back to help soothe associated muscle and joint inflammation.

References:
Bone and Joint Canada. http://boneandjointcanada.com/low-back-pain/
Healthline. What causes lordosis? 5 possible conditions. http://www.healthline.com/symptom/lordosis
Healthline. Core and Hip Exercises to Correct Lordosis Posture. http://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/lordosis-exercises
Liebetrau A., Schinowski D., Wulf T., and Wagner H. Is there a correlation between back pain and stability of the lumbar spine in pregnancy? A model-based hypothesis. Schmerz. 2012; 26(1): 36-45.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22366932
Medline Plus – Lumbar Lordosis. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003278.htm
Purcell L and Micheli L. Low Back Pain in Young Athletes. Sports Health. 2009; 1(3): 212-222.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445254/

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