AssessmentsLordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis
Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis
USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE
USMLE® Step 2 style questions USMLE
A 13-year-old boy comes to the clinic because of a deviation in his spine that his school nurse noticed a week ago. The right half of his upper back is protuberant, especially when he bends forward. In which of the following planes does his spinal axis deviate, and how is this deformity best described?
Content Reviewers:Rishi Desai, MD, MPH
Lordosis refers to the normal inward curvatures of the spine at the cervical and lumbar regions, while kyphosis refers to the normal outward curvature of the spine specifically at the thoracic region.
These terms get used interchangeably with hyperlordosis and hyperkyphosis, which means that the curves look abnormally pronounced.
Finally there’s scoliosis which always refers to the abnormal sideways curves of the spine.
The spine is made of 33 vertebrae, which can be divided into 5 regions.
The cervical region has 7 vertebrae, the thoracic region has 12 vertebrae, the lumbar region has 5 vertebrae, the sacral region has 5 vertebrae, and the small tail-like coccygeal region is made up of 4 fused vertebrae.
Normally, the cervical and the lumbar spines slightly curve inward.
This results from the fact that the intervertebral discs in these two regions are thicker anteriorly than posteriorly, which causes this part of the spine to lean forward.
On the other hand, the thoracic and the sacral spines are normally curved backward, which is normal