Persistent low back pain, back weakness and other back miseries are often caused by swayback, a condition in which an exaggeration of the lower spine’s inward curve throws an unnatural mechanical stress on spinal ligaments, back muscles and vertebras and sometimes pinches spinal nerves. This can lead to a variety of health problems far beyond any pain involved.


In many cases though, without ever knowing the cause, some persons suffer from swayback-induced back problems because a mild exaggeration of the normal spinal curves may go unnoticed to the untrained eye, yet still cause plenty of trouble. That’s why a chiropractic doctor’s evaluation of back pain is so important.


When viewed from the side, a normal spine presents itself in a gently curving column of vertebras and discs. The curve between the shoulders is toward the back while the curve over the pelvic area is toward the front. These curves contribute to the spine’s balance, center of gravity, flexibility and strength. When a spinal curve is exaggerated, for whatever reason, it’s called a “curvature.”


While any spinal curvature carries a decided potential for back pain and problems, swayback – technically called hyperlordosis – causes about 75 percent of posture-related low back pain.

If the mid-spine curve is exaggerated, the condition is called hyperkyphosis and tends to bring on back trouble, too. Sometimes a curvature in the mid-spine triggers the development of a compensating curve in the lower spine or vice versa. Either way, the curvatures are calledkypholordosis.


Here are some common causes of spinal curvatures: 

  • Unlevel pelvis
  • Pelvic misalignment
  • Misaligned vertebras
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Muscle imbalance
  • Poor posture in standing, sitting, sleeping
  • Feet turned out in walking
  • Arch problem in feet
  • Lax ligaments

Another type of spinal curvature is known as scoliosis. This is a condition in which there are one or more distinct curvatures in the normally-straight spine when viewed from the rear.  It is also possible to have a combination of kyphotic, lordotic and scoliotic curvatures.


Typical Spinal Curvatures
• Vertical dashed line represents center of gravity.
• Solid line to the left of each figure shows curvature of spine corresponding to that figure.
In many cases, especially in children, spinal curvatures may not yet be permanently established and often respond well to chiropractic care. That’s another reason it’s important to get chiropractic spinal checkups at least once a year.