Flatback Syndrome - Frisco, TX
A normal human spine has a slight curvature which gives it a shape like the alphabet ‘S’. This curvature which is naturally present in a healthy spine helps the body maintain its balance and also provides adequate space for the internal organs that are backed by the spine. The inward curve at the neck and the lower back is called Lordosis while the outward curvature in the thoracic region is called Kyphosis. These two curves balance out each other and they allow us to stand, move, and walk, run efficiently without expending too much energy as they counter the effect of gravity on the body. Flatback syndrome occurs when the lower back or the lumbar region of the spine loses its curve. This results in a flat looking back which makes the person lean forward with the head bent. This can result in major physical disability if prolonged.

Causes

  • Degenerative disc disease- As the body ages, the inter- vertebral discs start wearing out resulting in loss of spine height and collapse of the lumbar curve. The patient tends to bend forward and the shock absorbing capacity of the spine is affected
  • Compression fractures- One or more bones of the spine may develop cracks or minor fractures if they become weak and brittle. This causes them to collapse out at the edges and results in loss of spinal height and curve
  • Post Laminectomy Syndrome- People who have undergone surgeries for spinal decompression in the past are particularly at a greater risk of vertebral collapse and Flatback syndrome
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis- This is a type of chronic inflammatory disease which makes the spine stiff. The patient tends to stoop forward resulting in increase in thoracic Kyphosis and loss of lumbar Lordosis

Symptoms

  • Limited physical movement and ability to perform daily tasks is greatly hampered. Walking, bending, standing and
  • Pain may be felt in the spine, neck, legs and hips as the body is off balance and the supporting muscles are stressed out
  • Some people may develop breathing problem as the lung cavity is constricted
  • Visible deformity in the form of a flat shaped back and exaggerated hunch
  • The patient may not be able to stand straight or bring the head back
  • Weakness and instability in the lower extremities
  • Numbness may be felt in the back, hips or legs

Diagnosis

  • Detailed physical examination of the patient’s back, legs and hip joints with a thorough assessment of the medical history and lifestyle or occupational details
  • X-ray imaging is required to study the details of the changes in spinal structure and the exact severity of deformity
  • Pressure on the inter vertebral nerves needs to be checked in case of compression fractures and stenosis

Treatment

  • Flatback Syndrome has the option of being treated both surgically and non-surgically. The following methods can be employed.
  • Specially designed exercises which involve weight training, core muscle strengthening can help prevent the disease from aggravating
  • Physical therapy is highly recommended to help the patient cope up with the existing symptoms
  • Some anti steroidal medicines can be prescribed for combating pain and muscle stiffness
  • Corticosteroid injections are given to patients suffering from severe pain and swelling. It helps in providing immediate relief to the spine
  • Surgery is generally opted for in case of progressive or severe levels of deformity. It is done to reconstruct or realign the spine for better stability and strength