Spine provides sublime privilege for humans to stand erect. Spine, also known as the backbone is made up of small bones called vertebrae. They are placed one above the other with soft discs between two vertebra. The discs separate and cushion the vertebra from one another. Various back muscles and ligaments are attached to vertebra to keep the spine erect and flexible when needed during movement.
When you stand straight and observe the spine from sideways, it is not straight but slightly curved from front to back. When you see from back it is straight to the middle of back.Human spine is so designed so that it can absorb stress and increase flexibility of body during bending or other movements.
However, misalignment of spine or large curvature can make the spine abnormal. Abnormal curvature of spine leads to different types of spinal conditions such as lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis. Some people are born with spinal defect while in some the abnormal spinal curve may develop later in life due to disease and injury.
Types of abnormal curves of spine:
There are three main types of abnormal curves of spine:
- Scoliosis: A normal spine has slight curve from front to back. But it does not curve sideways. However, a scoliotic spine is curved sideways to make the shape of ‘S’ or long ‘C’.
- Lordosis: In lordosis the spine is abnormally bend inwards from the lower back.
- Kyphosis: This condition is characterized by rounded upper back.
What Causes A Curved Spine?
There are number of factors and health conditions that contribute to cause abnormal curves of spine.
Causes of Lordosis:
- Obesity: The spinal curvature may get misaligned more often in obese persons to result in lordotic spine.
- Osteoporosis: The spinal vertebra can become fragile and porous due to osteoporosis. It is a condition which causes depletion of calcium from the bones. Osteoporosis is observed in middle aged and elderly individuals.
- Spondylolisthesis: It is a condition where the lumbar and sacral region bulge forward.
- Tuberculosis of spine: In this condition, the disc space may widen and inflame.
- Sometime lordosis can be since childhood.
Causes of Kyphosis:
- Poor posture.
- Weak muscles of back, especially those of upper back.
- Arthritis of bones and spine.
- Spinal injury.
- Certain conditions such as marfan’s syndrome can cause kyphosis in children.
- Cancer of spine makes the vertebral coloumn weak. It increases risk of compression fracture leading to kyphosis.
- Scheuermann’s disease.
Causes of scoliosis:
- In majority cases (80%) of scoliosis, the cause is not known.
- If one leg is abnormally longer than other, patient may develop scoliosis.
- Poor posture.
- People who use backpacks more often.
- The child may be born with scoliosis.
- Neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy.
- Paralysis from injury to spinal cord.
Symptoms Of Curved Spine
The symptoms of abnormal spine curve may depend on the type and severity of the condition. Sometimes the person may be asymptomatic even though he may have curvature deformity.
Symptoms of scoliosis:
- The shoulder blades are unevenly placed.
- The hip bone is uneven. One hip bone prominently bulges than the other.
- Person with scoliosis leans on one side.
- Symptoms are more aggravated in females.
- As the body is leaned on one side, the head is not in center above the pelvis.
- There is a prominent bulge on one side of chest.
Symptoms of Lordosis:
- Buttocks become more prominent with C shaped back when seen laterally.
- Pain in lower back.
- When a person lies on his back, there is large gap between the spine and the floor.
- Difficulty in certain types of movement.
Treatment Options For Curved Spine
Normally treatment of abnormally curved spine depends on its type and the severity of the condition. People who have mild spinal curvature defect do not need any treatment and live a normal life. However, in case of severe spinal curvature producing symptoms and deformity may need treatment. It consists of following:
- Medicines to alleviate pain.
- Physiotherapy to strengthen muscles and increase body flexibility.
- Need to wear brace for support of spine.
- Weight loss if obese.
- Surgery may be needed to correct severe curvature.
- Patient may need vitamin D supplementation.