The spine, or backbone, is made up of small bones (vertebrae) stacked -- along with discs -- one on top of another. A healthy spine when viewed from the side has gentle curves to it. The curves help the spine absorb stress from body movement and gravity.
When viewed from the back, the spine should run straight down the middle of the back. When abnormalities of the spine occur, the natural curvatures of the spine are misaligned or exaggerated in certain areas, as occurs with lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis.
How do you know when that achy pain in your back is more than you can handle alone? Experts agree -- if your back pain is in conjunction with any of the following symptoms, skip the at-home remedies for in-office help.
There are several red flags that doctors look for when evaluating low back pain.
The purpose of these warning signs is to detect fractures, tumors, or infections of the spine. If you have any of these red flags along with back pain, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Kyphosis. A condition marked by an abnormally rounded upper back
Discitis. Inflammation of the disc space between the bones of the spine most often caused by infection
Benign (harmless) juvenile lordosis
The following conditions can cause kyphosis:
Abnormal vertebrae development in utero (congenital kyphosis)
Poor posture or slouching (postural kyphosis)
Scheuermann's disease, a condition that causes vertebrae to be misshaped (Scheuermann's kyphosis)
Spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column of the fetus does not close completely during development inside the womb
Doctors do not know what causes the most common type of scoliosis seen in adolescents. However, doctors do know that scoliosis tends to run in families. A disease, injury, infection, or birth defect also may be to blame.