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  • Overview

    A normal spine, when viewed from behind, appears straight. However, a spine affected by lordosis shows evidence of a curvature of the back bones (vertebrae) in the lower back area, giving the child a swayback appearance.

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches lordosis

    Early detection is key to treating lordosis. At Children's, the Spinal Program takes a three-pronged approach to treating your child's abnormal back curves: observation, physical therapy and bracing. Only the most severe cases of lordosis would require surgery.

    Contact Us


    Boston Children's Hospital
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Fegan 2
    Boston MA 02115


    Boston Children's Hospital at Waltham
    9 Hope Avenue
    Waltham MA 02453


    Boston Children's Hospital at Lexington
    482 Bedford Street
    Lexington MA 02420


    Boston Children's North
    10 Centennial Drive
    Peabody MA 01960


    Boston Children's Physicians South
    Stetson Medical Center
    541 Main Street
    Weymouth MA 02190


  • In-Depth

    The curves of the spine

    Just as the shapes of peoples' bodies differ, the normal spine varies in size and shape. You may have been told to stand up straight, but no one's spine is perfectly straight. A healthy spine has front-to-back curves. It is only when these curves become too large that they present a potential problem.

    What causes lordosis?

    The cause of lordosis is unknown. However, lordosis may be associated with poor posture, a congenital (present at birth) problem with the vertebrae, neuromuscular problems, back surgery or a hip problem.

    What are the symptoms of lordosis?

    Each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms will vary depending if lordosis occurs with other defects, such as muscular dystrophy, developmental dysplasia of the hip, or neuromuscular disorders.

    • The major clinical feature of lordosis is a prominence of the buttocks.
    • Back pain, pain down the legs, and changes in bowel and bladder habits are not commonly associated with lordosis. A child experiencing these types of symptoms requires further medical evaluation by a physician.
  • Tests

    How does a doctor know my child has lordosis?

    The physician makes the diagnosis of lordosis with a complete medical history of the child, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Your child's physician obtains a complete prenatal and birth history of the child and asks if other family members are known to have lordosis.

    Diagnostic procedures may include the following:

    • bone scan - a nuclear imaging method to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joints; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain or inflammation
    • blood tests
    • X-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
    • radionuclide scans - nuclear scans of various organs to determine blood flow to the organs
    • Computerized Tomography Scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) – A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called "slices"), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
  • Whether your particular spinal conditional is congenital, idiopathic or neuromuscular related, the Spinal Program at Children's provides comprehensive treatment including evaluation, diagnosis, consultation, and follow-up care.

    • Observation: Keeping watch on curves – Once an abnormal spine curve has been detected, it is important to monitor the curve. In many cases, a child's spinal condition may only require close monitoring during skeletal growth. Your physician will decide on your treatment plan and follow-up based upon your X-rays and physical exam.
    • Physical Therapy – With the goal of maximizing physical function, physical therapists work closely with the Spinal Program to provide exercise programs and additional physical therapy modalities to address pain and muscular imbalance often associated with spinal abnormalities.
    • Bracing – If your curve shows significant worsening or is already greater than 30 degrees, and you are still growing, your physician may recommend a bracing program.
    • Surgery is only required in the most severe cases of lordosis.
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