zoom vertebral column difference kyphosis lordosis

Kyphosis, lordosis: What's the difference? (explanation)

Your back, an area of ​​various tensions and pains, sometimes ruins your life. We hear about kyphosis and lordosis, assuming that they are deformities of the spine. Here is a guide to get to know them better and understand the difference between these two terms in relation to your back.

Definition of kyphosis


A curvature of the spine


The spine presents natural curvatures when viewed in profile. This helps maintain body balance, as well as upright posture and ambulation. At the dorsal level, the column has an inverted C shape allowing in particular to leave room for the heart and the lungs. It is this spinal curvature that is anatomically defined as kyphosis.


lumbar lordosis


We therefore understand that the dorsal kyphosis is not a pathological condition as such. However, it is often seen such as an abnormal or exaggerated curvature of the spine. One thinks in particular of the characteristic deformation of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre-Dame.


In sum, the dorsal column presents an angle between 20 and 45 degrees in the majority of individuals. This is considered “normal”. If the curvature has an angle outside this range (more than 50 degrees), then it is called hyperkyphosis.


To know everything about dorsal kyphosis, see the following article.


Symptoms of kyphosis


As mentioned, it is normal to have a slightly rounded back. In case of pathology or hyperkyphosis, it is possible to develop pain. These can be located at the dorsal level (middle back ou between the shoulder blades), in the neck or even in the lower back. There is also aesthetic discomfort, with a tendency to lean forward (curved back).


kyphosis compared to lumbar lordosis


It is important to mention that even when the dorsal kyphosis is exaggerated, it is possible that it does not cause any problem. This comes from the fact that the body has been able to adapt over time, and that the deformation of the spine does not lead to nervous or respiratory consequences. This is called asymptomatic hyperkyphosis.



Definition of lordosis


Cervical and lumbar curvature


Like kyphosis, lordosis is a normal curvature of the spine. We speak of posterior concavity in medicine. Here, it should be specified that the curvature is located in the cervical and lumbar areas. Each person therefore has a cervical lordosis and a lumbar lordosis.


You should know that the reasons for the accentuation of lordosis are varied. In the dock, we distinguish:


  • a physical malformation
  • the adoption of unsuitable and prolonged postures
  • obesity
  • the pregnancy 
  • certain sports practices (gymnastics)
  • excessive wearing of high heels


To learn more about lumbar lordosis, see the following article.


Symptoms of Hyperlordosis


We will speak of pathology in the case where the curvature is accentuated in an exaggerated way. In such conditions, lordosis is called hyperlordosis. This deformation promotes more or less serious consequences in patients.


lumbar hyperlordosis


Hyperlordosis can lead to lower back pain or lower back pain. However, in many cases, lordosis or hyperlordosis is not painful (asymptomatic hyperlordosis).



The difference between kyphosis and lordosis


curvatures of the spine including lumbar lordosis


The position


It is true that kyphosis and lordosis are curvatures in the spine, but they are in different regions. Dorsal kyphosis lies between cervical lordosis and lumbar lordosis. The first at your upper back and the second at your lower back.


Because of this, the dorsal kyphosis is in the middle of the back. Thoracic kyphosis takes into account 12 vertebrae. Cervical lordosis and lumbar lordosis include 5 and 7 vertebrae respectively.


The type of curvature


When you look at the spine from the front, it looks straight. However, observed in profile, one notices a succession of curves from the neck to the buttocks.


Cervical lordosis and lumbar lordosis form inward bends at either end of the dorsal kyphosis. The latter is characterized by a longer outward curvature.


The pathology


Hyperkyphosis can end up creating a hump in the back. Hyperlordosis accentuates the curvature of the hollow of the kidneys. In the long term, it is possible that these deformities cause spinal disorders. In particular, the following conditions are considered:



Fortunately, these spinal deformities can be taken care of.



What is the support?


Spinal deformities will be confirmed during a consultation with the doctor. A clinical examination and an X-ray are necessary for the establishment of the diagnosis. Early detection will allow rapid management of kyphosis or lordosis if it is considered to be problematic. This will avoid possible complications.


physiotherapy sessions


The management of kyphosis or lordosis can be done by a physiotherapist. It applies to correcting spinal deformities using techniques such as:


  • Massages
  • mobilizations of the column
  • spinal traction
  • therapeutic exercises
  • analgesic modalities (heat, ice, electrotherapy, etc.)


physiotherapist assessment


In addition to physical therapy, treatment for hyperkyphosis or hyperlordosis may include painkillers to relieve pain. In some cases, surgery can be used, mainly when the spinal cord is compromised.


The boost of alternative medicine


You can also use alternative medicine. Posturology, acupuncture, osteopathy… Each of these gentle methods can help. It's up to you to choose the therapist to whom you want to entrust your back. Also consider doing a sport. You can participate in gentle gymnastics or yoga. You will work the different muscles of your back.


To learn more about natural products in the management of back pain, see the following article.


Play the prevention card


It is necessary to take care of your back on a daily basis. This can be done by practicing appropriate exercises. Also, avoid inappropriate postures, whether standing or sitting. Play sports to maintain your lumbar or abdominal muscles.


In children, don't forget to have the curves checked before they become permanent. Indeed, scoliosis can cause spinal deformities such as hyperkyphosis or hyperlordosis. 





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