The main types of curvature of the spine

Our spinal column is not just a straight line. Starting from the birth of a person, physiological curves are gradually formed on the spinal column, their main purpose is to soften the daily load on our spine.

In addition to the necessary natural curves, pathological ones can appear in people, they are called curvatures. With their formation, the main danger lies not only in a noticeable physical defect, but also in the deterioration of the work of the most basic organs – the lungs, heart, and parts of the digestive system.

Types of curvature of the spine

Normally, a person, starting from birth and during the next several years of life, forms four physiological, that is, natural curvatures in the spinal column. They are found in humans in the region of the sacrum, cervical spine, lower back and thoracic spine.

Curvatures are usually called those bends that deviate abnormally from the axis of the spine forward, backward or sideways.

The physiological bends listed above deviate only backward or forward, deviation to the side from the axis is denoted in medicine by the term scoliosis. Kyphosis and lordosis are always considered normal only if their curvature does not exceed certain indicators.

As soon as these indicators of curvature begin to deviate from the norm, pathological kyphosis or lordosis occurs, requiring a special course of treatment.


Scoliosis is customary to denote an abnormal lateral deviation of the vertebrae, usually the thoracic region is exposed to pathology in humans. For the first time, subfrontal curvature is most often detected in schoolchildren under 15 years of age.

The pronounced degree of pathology can be easily noticed in a stranger on their own, you can pay attention to the raised scapula, the deviation of the body to the side. Scoliosis affects gait and, of course, posture.

By the shape of the curvature, scoliosis is subdivided into:

  • C-shaped, that is, with a pathological curvature to one side. This is the most common form.
  • S-shaped is characterized by the presence of two arcs of anomalous curvature. The first of them is the main one, the second is a compensatory arch, it is formed in order to align the spinal column and is located above the first.
  • Z-shaped is three arcs of curvature at once. The first two are most pronounced and are often visible to the naked eye, the last curvature can be determined only in the picture. Z-shaped scoliosis is the most severe in its manifestations and complications and is difficult to treat.


It is customary to refer to pathological lordosis as excessive deviation of the anterior axis of the spine. Most often, excessive bulge is formed in the cervical and lumbar spine, less often where there is physiological thoracic kyphosis.

Lumbar lordosis leads to limited mobility of the lower limbs. With lordosis in the neck, a person has severe pain in the head, there is a violation of the mobility of the shoulder girdle and arms.

The bulging of the vertebrae leads to the disruption of the work of some organs and the greater the degree of curvature, the more pronounced functional disorders of the lungs, heart, kidneys.


Pathological posterior curvature of the spinal axis is called kyphosis.

There are two forms of this pathology, with an arcuate, a uniform arc of curvature is noted . Angular kyphosis occurs due to the bulging of several adjacent vertebrae with the formation of an angle. Mild forms of kyphosis in humans are slouching.

The reasons

The deviation of the spinal column from the normal axis can be due to two groups of reasons – acquired during life and congenital.

Under the influence of provoking factors in the spinal column, structural or non-structural abnormal curvatures are revealed. The term structural refers to various changes in the structure of the vertebral body or, in general, the entire spinal column.

There are many reasons for such anomalies, the most basic and common ones include:

  • Hereditary predisposition.
  • Genetic abnormalities, which leads to pathologies of the connective tissue elements in the spine.
  • Injuries, benign or malignant neoplasms of the spine.
  • Diseases of the central nervous system (congenital or acquired during life). These are cerebral palsy, poliomyelitis, conditions after cerebral strokes.
  • Diseases with metabolic-dystrophic processes in the body – osteoporosis, rickets.
  • Bone tuberculosis, the last stages of syphilis.
  • Rheumatism.

Among adult patients, the development of pathological curvatures is often revealed against the background of osteochondrosis for several years and in people with intervertebral hernias.

Various non-structural curvatures of the spine are secondary, that is, they arise due to the pathology of organs or the skeletal system. The main reasons for such curvature of the spine are:

  • Congenital anomalies of the bone structures of the pelvis and lower extremities, most often flat feet, congenital hip dislocation, shortening of one limb, clubfoot.
  • Injuries to the spine and pelvic bones.
  • One-sided, long-term or often recurring intense pain syndrome. A similar symptom can be with kidney disease, gallstones, liver disease.
  • Deep scarring of soft tissue on one side of the body, leading to muscle tension.
  • Myositis, i.e. muscle inflammation.

In children, curvature of the spinal column often occurs with the rapid growth of the skeleton and the initial weakness of the muscle corset at the same time. In the onset of pathology in schoolchildren, the leading role is played by the constant incorrect position of the body in the classroom and when doing home lessons.


The patient’s complaints with various curvatures of the spinal column will depend not only on the type of pathological curvature, but also on its localization, and even more on the degree of curvature of the arc.

  • The first degree during examination is set if the angle of the arc is not more than 10 degrees. There are no special changes in well-being with this degree of curvature, as there is no noticeable external defect. You can pay attention to the stoop, uneven height of the shoulder blades and the shoulder girdle raised on one side when a person is without clothes.
  • The second degree of curvature is set at angles ranging from 10 to 25 degrees. In the vertebrae, structural abnormalities are revealed by the type of their twisting. There is an uneven tone of the muscle group on the back or in front of the chest. With a prolonged sitting position, back pain occurs, physical activity is poorly tolerated.
  • The third degree of curvature, the angle reaches from 26 to 50 degrees. The deformity of the chest and spinal column is immediately evident. A person has almost constant painful spasms in the muscles in the back, even the most moderate physical exertion cannot be tolerated, shortness of breath worries, both during exertion and at rest.
  • If the angle of the arc is determined more than 50 degrees, then we are already talking about the most severe degree of curvature – the fourth. Severe deformation also negatively affects the functioning of the heart, bronchi, lungs, liver, stomach.

Symptoms of a violation of the normal, natural position of the spinal column also depend on where the curvature itself is formed. If pathology develops in the neck, then often a person is worried about headaches, dizziness, various disorders in movements.

With curvatures of the lumbar spine, motor, sensory disorders in the legs occur, women develop ovarian dysfunction, and men may have sexual dysfunction.

How to determine the presence of a disease?

The deformity of the spine is revealed already with a close external examination, this applies even to the first degree of curvature. You can independently assume a pathology in yourself by the following signs:

  • If you stand up straight, then one shoulder will be lower than the other.
  • When examining the back, you can see the bulging angle of the scapula, and if you lean forward downward, you will notice the curvature of the spine.
  • In a standing position, you need to lower your hands down and look at the distance between them and your waist. If it is very different, then an abnormal curvature of the spine is often detected.

Subjective signs of pathological changes in the spinal column are pain in the back, neck, chest, numbness and decreased strength in the limbs.

The diagnosis is confirmed by radiography, computed tomography, ultrasound and laboratory tests are used to detect violations in the work of internal organs.


Curvatures of the spinal column, related to the first degree, almost never affect the state of health, and the cosmetic defect from them is minimal. But it must be borne in mind that the first degree easily passes without treatment to subsequent ones, where the symptoms are expressed and the risk of serious complications is high.

With curvatures of the spine belonging to the second degree, the skew of the body will already be noticeable to those around. In addition, there are periodic back pains, muscle spasms , and such people get physically tired more quickly after walking, working or playing sports.

Curvatures of the third and fourth degrees are already considered very serious diseases. In patients with such a diagnosis, certain disorders in cardiac activity are almost always revealed, breathing problems arise, pneumonia and bronchitis develop more often. There is a high probability of stagnant processes in the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to cholecystitis, pancreatitis, women may have problems with the onset of pregnancy and even with bearing a child.

Can you fix it?

On their own, adults often manage to correct curvatures related to the first degree. But this happens only if a person can constantly perform the physical exercises necessary for the spine and can correct his posture.

In the second degree, complex measures will help to cope with the problem, including, in addition to physical exercises, massage, manual therapy. Pathological bends that occur in children are most easily corrected.

With curvatures of the fourth and third degrees, it will no longer be possible to completely correct the position of the spinal column. But the person must follow the procedures prescribed by the doctor in order to prevent further deformation.

Sometimes, in order to stop further deformation, an operation is required, during which special fixators are installed in the spine to hold it in the desired position.

How to cure pathology at home?

Curvature of the spine is treated in a hospital only in the case of surgery. All procedures that the doctor prescribes must be performed at home in full. The patient is required in the course of therapy:

  • Eliminate unnecessary loads.
  • Maximize the activity of the muscle corset.
  • Develop the correct posture and gait.
  • To achieve the elimination of secondary symptoms of pathology.

The doctor’s treatment regimen for each patient is drawn up individually and the main thing in it is always physical exercise.

The set of classes must be selected by the doctor, since the independent selection of exercises most often increases the degree of curvature even more. Drug therapy, massages, physiotherapy are considered additional methods.

Back gymnastics

A set of exercises for scoliosis should be aimed at strengthening the muscles, this will help maintain the spinal column in the desired position.

Recommended exercises include:

  • From a standing position, stretching the torso up with raised arms. In this position, you need to linger for a few seconds.
  • From the same position with legs apart, the torso bends in different directions.
  • From a prone position, the arms and legs are stretched up alternately.
  • While on your knees, you need to lean on the floor with one hand and pull the other to the sides. They do the same with the legs, leaning on the floor with their hands.

This set of classes is approximate and helps more with the first degree of curvature. In order to achieve a noticeable result of strengthening the muscles, it is necessary that the doctor selects the classes and corrects them during the treatment.


Massage technique for curvature of the arch of the spine improves blood circulation in the affected area, enhances metabolism and has a positive effect on the entire state of the spinal column.

When performing a massage, a specialist must take into account the type of curvature, its degree and select the effect that removes hypertonicity from the muscles or, on the contrary, increases it. The treatment course consists of several stages.

At the first stage, they seek to increase muscle tone, increase recovery processes. At the second stage, they try to correct the deformity of the spine. Subsequently, with the help of massage, they try to achieve consolidation of all the results, which also applies to physiotherapy exercises.

For curvatures, any massage should be performed by a trained specialist.

Adjunctive treatment

Drug therapy for curvatures is considered an auxiliary method of treatment and more often it is aimed at eliminating the identified changes, at improving metabolic processes, at normalizing the work of all organs and at increasing immunity.

If osteochondrosis is detected, you will definitely need to undergo a full course of treatment using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins, chondroprotectors.

Physiotherapy courses are used to reduce pain, to relieve muscle spasm. With the help of physiotherapy, blood circulation is improved, and inflammation from the tissues is removed.

Corsetting is another auxiliary method of eliminating curvatures. Corsets can be supportive or corrective. The latter are most often prescribed to children, since at this age it is quite possible to achieve a decrease in the degree of scoliosis.

Supporting corsets of different types do not allow the pathology to worsen. The type of corset is selected in each case only individually.


The curvature of the spine is not only an external noticeable defect, but also a disruption in the work of many organs and systems.

With a severe form of pathology due to a disorder of the most important functions in the body, a person quickly becomes disabled and often dies at a young age.

Therefore, the prevention of diseases of the musculoskeletal system should be observed from childhood and in fact it is not difficult.

It is necessary:

  • Since childhood, constantly engage in various sports.
  • Develop the correct posture.
  • Eat full and only healthy food.
  • Treat all diseases associated with metabolism, the work of the musculoskeletal system.

Do they take into the army?

The issue of military service worries many young men with scoliosis. With the first degree of curvature, identified in childhood and successfully healed, they are taken into the army without restrictions. With the second degree of curvature, a young man can serve in certain troops by decision of the commission.

The degree of curvature of the spine also influences the decision on fitness for service. Also, for scoliosis, a temporary delay may be given. With severe degrees of pathology, they are exempted from service.

The decision on the passage or non-passage of service is made by the commission on the basis of X-ray data, previous entries in the medical record. Therefore, it is in the interests of young people to always be examined on time if they suspect scoliosis.

Which doctor should I go to?

Several doctors should deal with the treatment of curvature of the spine. If you suspect such a pathology, it is best to initially contact a neurologist, who will issue referrals for examination and then send the patient to an orthopedist. This specialist is already dealing with pathologies of the skeletal system.

In addition to an orthopedist, the treatment of curvature of the spine is impossible without an exercise therapy instructor, a chiropractor. In the last degrees of scoliosis, surgeons are also involved in treatment.

If you suspect a curvature, it is necessary to undergo a full examination as soon as possible. At the initial stage, to eliminate the changes, a minimum amount of both your own forces and finance will be required.

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