Many people have misconceptions about the spine. While most people realize that it is the backbone of their movement, they fail to realize that it is not a singular bone. In fact, the spine is a series of bones that are connected with cushions. Another misconception people have is that the back is straight. In truth, a straight spine can be the cause for a lot of health problems.
A Healthy Lumbar Curve
The shape of the spine has a natural curve. While it is true that the spine should be centered vertically over the pelvis, the spine curves inward and outward in distinct sections. This curvature is visible from a profile view. The reason for this curvature is related to balance. The spine bends in order to provide balance for other parts of the body. In the low back, there is a noticeable inward curve. In the upper back, the spine curves outward. This creates a perfect balance, which effectively minimizes the stress of being upright.
Flat Back Syndrome
For some people, problems can arise in the lumbar curve itself. In some cases, the curve of the lower back diminishes. In essence, people develop a flat back. When this occurs, there can be a dramatic impact on one’s health. The reason why relates back to the way a healthy spine functions. When there is no curve in the lower back, the body becomes imbalanced. This can lead to pain, which can often be felt in the lower back, pelvis and down the legs. In order to compensate, many people with flat back syndrome will start to lean forward and adjust their posture. A person without a proper lumbar curve will start to feel worse as the hours wear on. Some people eventually struggle with being upright at all.
Some cases are caused by a structural abnormality within the spine itself. However, other cases may be linked to instability within the back, leading to degeneration of the curve over time. Specific causes will vary widely, but there are a few common causes worth noting.
First, flattening of the spine can be caused by degenerative disc disease. This disease affects spinals discs, which serve as cushions between the spinal bones. When this occurs, the spine begins to shrink and can become malformed. This can lead to straightening.
Another cause can be linked to compression fractures. These fractures are generally caused by bone weakness. This weakness is often due to conditions like osteoporosis. Fractures, like degenerative discs, can lead to a loss of height in the spine. Over time, this can lead to a loss of curvature.
Other conditions like arthritis can cause problems with the spine. In particular, ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that leads to stiffness in the spinal joints. When this occurs, degeneration of the spine is usually inevitable.
Lastly, this condition can be a complication from other lumbar procedures. People who have had spinal surgery or other treatments may be prone to lumbar post laminectomy syndrome. This means that the treatment in one part of the spine can lead to degeneration of the spine in other ways. One such way is a straightening of the curve.
Treatment depends on the exact nature of the curvature and the severity of the symptoms. For mild cases, physical therapy, spinal manipulation and exercise can all be excellent options. Many patients eventually use medication or spinal injections to help manage the symptoms of the condition. When these methods fail to provide relief, patients may need surgical intervention. If you are experiencing back pain and would like to learn more about non-surgical or minimally invasive options, call us at 888-712-0318 or contact us today.