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Lordosis is a curvature in the lower back area, also known as swayback. The lordotic curve refers to the curve of the lumbar spine, just above the buttocks. Lordosis makes the buttocks appear more prominent and children with severe lordosis have a significant space under their lower back when lying on their back.

Lordosis can be present at birth or may be congenital. It may also be as a result of one of the following conditions:

  • Back surgery
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Hip problems associated with developmental dysplasia of the hip
  • Achondroplasia
  • Spondylolisthesis

Signs of lordosis

Each child may exhibit symptoms differently, however the most common symptom of lordosis is a prominence of the buttocks, or a swayback appearance.

Diagnosing lordosis

Your child’s doctor may use one of the following procedures when diagnosing lordosis:

X-ray – An X-ray can measure the curve and your child’s doctor or radiologist can determine the best type of treatment based on the measurements.

Bone scans – A bone scan can determine any changes in the joints, or detect bone diseases, tumors or any bone pain or inflammation. Bone scans may also be conducted to rule out fractures or infection.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – An MRI shows detailed images of the body’s organs and is used to determine any abnormalities associated with the nerves and spinal cord.

CT scan – A CT scan that uses a combination of X-rays and imaging can produce cross-sectional images of the body both horizontally and vertically. A CT scan shows detailed images of the body such as bones, fat and muscles, and can be used to diagnose lordosis.

Treatment of lordosis

Shriners Hospitals for Children's treatment goals are to stop the progression of the curve and prevent deformity. Specific treatment plans will be based on the child’s unique needs and overall medical condition. Treatments offered include:

Occupational or physical therapy – Children diagnosed with lordosis generally are treated through occupational or physical therapy. They will work with a therapist to learn how to strengthen the lower back through a series of exercises and strengthening techniques that they can do at home.

Orthotics – Bracing to control the growth of the curve, especially in children and teens.