Sports Medicine: Kyphosis and Lordosis

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Kyphosis and lordosis refer to the natural curves of the spine in the mid-back and low back. Sometimes these curves can be larger than normal which can lead to pain. Too much kyphosis occurs when the upper back (thoracic) curves outward into a “C” shape, creating a humpback look. Too much lordosis occurs when the spine in the lower back (lumbar) curves inward, creating a reverse “C” shape or swayback look where the buttocks and stomach are more prominent.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Visible hump or curve in the upper or lower back
  • Pain in the mid or low back
  • Tight hamstring muscles
  • Difference in shoulder height and forward position
  • Head bends forward compared to the rest of the body


  • Medicine
    • Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®) may be recommended. Take these as directed by your health care provider.
    • Other minor pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
  • Use of cold and heat
    • Cold should be applied for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours for swelling and after any activity that makes symptoms worse. Use ice packs or an ice massage.
    • Heat may be used before stretching and strengthening activities prescribed by your health care provider or athletic trainer. Use a heat pack or warm soak. Apply for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Exercises
    • Exercises to improve range of motion, strength and flexibility may be recommended. These can be done at home but often a referral to a physical therapist or athletic trainer may be prescribed by your health care provider.
  • Surgery and Bracing
    • Bracing may be helpful in some cases to decrease pain. In more severe cases that do not get better with bracing or rehab exercises, surgery may be needed.

Increased Risk

  • Poor posture
  • Family history of the condition
  • Patients need to be followed over time to make sure curves are not worsening.
  • Maintain correct posture, conditioning, flexibility, core, back muscle strength and endurance.
  • Build strong bones with a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D.

When to Call the Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider or the Sports Medicine team at (614) 355-6000 if:

  • Symptoms get worse after 2 to 4 weeks, even with treatment
  • You have loss of bowel or bladder function
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop

Sports Medicine: Kyphosis and Lordosis (PDF)

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