A common misunderstanding people have about the spine is that it is one bone. The spine is actually made up of a sequence of 24 bones called vertebrae that are secured together by groups of ligaments. Many times people also fail to understand that the spine should not be perfectly straight. A perfectly straight spine can be the cause of numerous health complications. On the other hand a spine that is over curved in various places can also create a multitude of health concerns.
Natural Curvature of the Spine
A healthy spine has 4 natural curves to it. From top to bottom the curves of the spine are as follows; the cervical curve, the thoracic curve, the lumbar curve, and lastly the sacrum curve. This curvature helps the body be in balance and keeps the body upright. A healthy spine is naturally centered over the pelvis. At the top of the spine it curves outward, and at the bottom of the spine it curves inward creating a perfect balance and making it easy for it to support the body’s weight.
What is Flat Back Syndrome
For some people, the natural curve of their back will dwindle over time. When this happens their lower spine gradually becomes straight and in many cases will lead to a flat back. This most commonly occurs in the lumbar curve, which causes the body to become out of balance. This often leads to excruciating pain in the lower back and surrounding areas. To deal with this many people with flat back syndrome will start to adjust their posture by leaning forward which can cause more health complications and worsen over time dealing more pain.
What Can Cause Flat Back Syndrome
There are many ways the spine can become deformed. One of the most common causes is instability within the back, which will cause the natural curve of the spine to become distorted over time. Another common cause of flattening of the spine is by degenerative disc disease. This disease affects the discs or cushions between the vertebrae which eventually break down over time and can cause the spine to lean forward and lose its curve. Flat back syndrome can also be caused by compression fractures or chronic inflammatory diseases such as Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) that cause arthritis and stiffness through all parts of the spine. Additionally flat back syndrome can develop in patients that have had previous lumbar surgery by causing a drastic decrease in the natural lumbar curve or severe spinal instability.
How to Treat Flat Back Syndrome
In many cases flat back syndrome can be treated without surgery. Opening treatment for a non severe case includes physical therapy and exercises that are done to strengthen the core muscles that support the spine. Many times this natural rehabilitation is enough to build up the muscles around the spine and drastically reduce the symptoms. If surgery is necessary there are medical procedures available to surgically reconstruct the spine. The goal of surgical reconstruction is to manually align the spine to its natural curved shape to reduce pain faced by the patient. If you feel your back is causing you pain and would like to discuss what treatment options are available, contact Spine Institute Northwest or call 206-496-0630 today.