The natural curves that form a healthy spine allow us to perform at our best everyday. They allow for healthy transmission of information throughout the body, and makes sure the body can effectively bear the stresses and strains that we put on it on a daily basis. With the changing nature of society over time, it means that more and more of us are suffering the effects of excessive sitting and poor posture, that can contribute towards back troubles – including tight muscles, eventual loss of curvature and potentially some more extensive back injuries such as disc bulges or herniations.
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It is instilled in us since childhood that sitting throughout the day is a normal activity – from sitting all day at school up until the age of 18, progressing further into higher education in some cases, to then go on potentially to perform a desk job for a large portion of our lives. Although we might start out the day with the best of intentions when it comes to maintaining an upright posture, when tiredness ensues throughout the day it’s only natural that we begin to slip – however succumbing to poor posture is then what leads to trouble with our spines.
The impact of curvature loss on the spine
One such problem that can occur as a result of bad posture over time is called a reduced lordosis, also known as a loss of lordosis or flat-back. A lordosis describes the natural curve of the neck or lumbar spine, while a reduced lordosis refers to a straight neck, or flat-back. In the other direction, if you experience an excessive or exaggerated curve in the lumbar spine that is called a hypo-lordosis or swayback. When a loss of lordosis occurs, you may not necessarily notice the problem at first if paying attention to your posture is not something you would think to do on a regular basis.
Losing the natural curvature of your spine may not be something that causes you pain straight away, although you may notice that you may be more prone to the odd ache in the lower back from lifting with incorrect posture, from working out at the gym or after a long day at work. When the loss of curvature has existed for a number of weeks, months or, in some cases, years is when you will more likely to see the effects of the problem.
The consequences of a reduced lordosis can reach into the future
A sudden trauma such as a car accident or a fall would also be more likely to cause an injury in these cases of spines as well. Over time, that reduced lordosis can cause your body to not distribute weight effectively, which can in turn compress the spine – potentially leading to an increased risk of disc injuries such as a disc bulge. If that is a condition you’ve been diagnosed with, it’s worth asking the question if you have abnormalities in your posture that could have lead to such a problem occurring? Treating a disc problem is one issue entirely on its own, but treating the underlying loss of curvature will also contribute towards a healthier spine in the long term.
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MRI vs. accurate X-Ray lordosis analysis
Reintroducing curvature into the neck or lumbar spine, depending on where your problem lies, should be a priority when evaluating your spine. But the only way to properly determine the curvature of your spine is through normal x-ray imaging, done in a standing position. A question we receive on a daily basis at the clinic is, I’ve had MRI imaging why would I need more x-rays?
Both types of imaging have individual benefits, while MRI imaging is useful for determining soft tissue injuries, we use regular standing x-rays in order to better evaluate the health of your spine. Using our software we can accurately measure the degree of curve in your spine, and by placing a quantifiable amount on this we can give you the most effective guidance on how to treat your back problem.
MRIs in this case just aren’t accurate enough to determine the degree of curve, and because they’re most commonly performed lying down it gives no indication on your spine’s ability to deal with gravity. So if you’ve previously been diagnosed with any kind of back condition, have the curves in your spine been accurately measured? If they have, that’s fantastic news and you’re probably in safe hands, but if not you may not have any success with physical therapy until it’s been targeted to your specific needs.
Accurate examination leads to effective treatment
At The Mayfair Clinic, during your back examination with us we go through special orthopaedic testing, followed by x-ray imaging if the examination finds it clinically relevant. Once we’ve identified any abnormalities in your spine, we can then provide specific guidance to you. Following our advice on treatment, and proactively following a rehabilitation programme at home, will give you the best results over time.
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Our rehabilitation programmes generally involve specific stretches or exercises tailored to your needs, perhaps in conjunction with the use of spinal orthotics, a powerful tool that when used correctly as advised by one of our expert team members, can help reintroduce curves back into the spine. When following our advice, sticking to recommended treatment and following the rehabilitation programme at home, you can usually expect to see up to a 10 degree change in the degree of curve of your lower back after around 3-4 months – with slightly more change possible in the neck in the same time. Although 10 degrees sounds relatively small, it can mean a dramatic percentage increase! When our therapies are combined with an effectively followed rehabilitation programme it can mean a stronger and healthier spine in the long-run. It takes a lot of time and patience to improve a spinal curve, especially in cases where issues with your spine have been developing over a long period of time, but positive changes can be achievable with the right treatment methods.
So if you’ve been experiencing issues with your spine, maybe you’ve already been diagnosed with a specific problem, or you’re aware that your posture can definitely be improved, contact our helpful and expert team today to book your examination. We even include treatment on the first visit, so you can start your road to recovery as soon as possible. Call us today on 0203 947 3222 to discuss your case, or email us at email@example.com with details of your problem, to find out how we can help you.
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