Lumbar Lordosis (Swayback)

Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2023

What is lordosis?

Picture of a healthprofessional with his hand on a patien'ts lower back.
A symptom of lumbar lordosis is discomfort and/or back pain.

Lumbar lordosis is the inward curve of the lumbar spine in the lower back. A small degree of lordosis (inward curvature) is normal. The spine in the neck also has lordosis (cervical lordosis). 

Normal lumbar (lower spine) lordosis is not painful but if the posture of the person appears to be swayback (abnormal inward curve), they may experience back pain

What causes lordosis?

Common causes of lumbar lordosis

  1. Discitis
  2. Obesity
  3. Kyphosis
  4. Osteoporosis
  5. Spondylolisthesis 

Causes of lumbar lordosis in children

  1. Bad posture
  2. Previous spine surgery
  3. Pelvis or hip injury
  4. Congenital
  5. Genetics
  6. Dwarfism
  7. Other spine disorders

Causes lumbar lordosis in women during pregnancy

Lumbar lordosis in pregnancy is due, according to some researchers, to the spine adjusting itself to the center of gravity as the pregnancy weight gain causes abdominal enlargement. It may shift again after the woman delivers the baby.

What are the symptoms of lordosis?

Symptoms and signs of lumbar lordosis (lordotic spine) may include:

  • The appearance of being swayback or abnormal posture with an arched lower spine
  • Buttocks appear more pronounced
  • Having a large gap or arch between the lower back and a flat surface when lying on your back
  • Discomfort and/or back pain
  • Difficulty in moving in certain directions

Some people may develop nerve problems (numbness/tingling of lower extremities, poor bladder control, weakness, electric shock-like pains).

Diagnosis of lordosis

Doctor diagnoses lordosis patient.
Mild forms of lordosis may require little or no treatments.

Procedures and tests to diagnose lumbar lordosis are the histories and physical exams are used to diagnose lordosis.  Other studies, such as X-rays and/or CT of the spine can also aid in the diagnosis.

What are the treatments for lordosis?

Mild forms of lordosis may require little or no treatments. Children can sometimes outgrow the problem. These treatments may help to fix, correct and/or reverse to cause straightening of lumbar lordosis.

What is the prognosis for lordosis?

The prognosis for lumbar lordosis depends on how mild to severe are the symptoms and the underlying cause. Mild lordosis in children, for example, maybe cured over time without treatment while severe lordosis may require surgery. However; proper treatments may lead to symptom reduction, or in some people a "cure" or a reversal of lordosis back to normal or near normal.

Is it possible to prevent lordosis?

Lumbar lordosis may be prevented in some people by preventing certain causes such as obesity, poor posture, and trauma. Other causes such as congenital or genetic lordosis are not preventable. 


What is another medical term for osteoporosis? See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2023
Lumbar lordosis. Mt. Sinai. 2020.