Flat Back Syndrome

Individuals believe that maintaining a straight/flat back is healthy. However, the back is made up of natural curves that allow flexibility and optimal movement. If there is a lack of these curves, it can lead to spine issues, discomfort, and pain. A common problem to develop from a spine lacking natural curvature is abnormal kyphosis. This is when the natural curve in the thoracic spine – mid-back or lumbar spine – low back disappears, which results in a flat back. Restoring the curvature can be challenging, as flatback syndrome requires chiropractic adjustments to gently shift and realign the spine back into a healthy curve and re-train the spine to maintain the curve.

Flat Back Syndrome

Causes of Flat Back Syndrome

Flatback syndrome is usually a result of muscle tightness in the lower back muscles, specifically in the psoas muscle. Or it could be degenerative disc disease, where the cartilage supporting the spine begins to weaken. Other causes include arthritis and osteoporosis. Practicing unhealthy posture habits can worsen these conditions, speeding up the loss of the spine’s curvature. Loss of spinal curvature does not occur rapidly, as the body will begin to present with symptoms. The following symptoms could be an indication:

  • Fatigue when trying to stand upright
  • Balance problems
  • Restricted mobility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Thigh pain
  • Groin pain
  • Disc herniation

Back pain and problems with balance are the earliest warning signs of flatback syndrome.

Symptoms

Flatback symptoms usually get worse as the day progresses, with a sense of fatigue and increasing difficulty to stand upright. Individuals tend to flex or bend their hips and knees to get into an upright position. This can become an exhausting process as the day progresses. Individuals can also have symptoms of sciatica and/or spinal stenosis with leg pain and weakness that gets worse when walking. Neck and upper back pain can begin to present while straining to align themselves. The symptoms become disabling, often requiring pain medications that limit the individual’s ability to perform daily activities.

Realignment Treatment

A chiropractor must determine the severity of the deviation through a thorough assessment and examination. This shows the loss of curvature to help a chiropractor plan a realignment/remodeling adjustment schedule. Restoring a natural kyphosis is done through a combination of adjustments and bracing. Scheduled spinal adjustments will realign and shift the vertebrae back to neutral, while a back brace supports to prevent any deviation. Stretching and exercising relevant muscle groups is also part of a chiropractic treatment plan. An example is core exercises for strengthening the muscles supporting the spine.


Body Composition


Personalized Nutrition

Because the body is so complex and dynamic, there is no perfect fit when it comes to diet, exercise, or a combination. Fad diets typically recommend that individuals adhere to the same eating guidelines, indicating they will reach an expected result like fat loss. These diets work because they focus on a simple reduction in calorie intake, especially processed and fast foods. The problem is that some of these fad diets can restrict critical nutrients that negatively affect an individual’s health. More information about an individual’s body and how it works is an excellent resource in improving body composition and overall health. Personalized nutrition is an innovative and favorable approach to preventing and treating obesity and related conditions. This approach identifies:

  • Genetic markers
  • Dietary patterns
  • Environment
  • Metabolism

Educated recommendations can be made based on these factors.

References

Drabsch, Theresa, and Christina Holzapfel. “A Scientific Perspective of Personalised Gene-Based Dietary Recommendations for Weight Management.” Nutrients vol. 11,3 617. 14 Mar. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11030617

Farcy, J P, and F J Schwab. “Management of flatback and related kyphotic decompensation syndromes.” Spine vol. 22,20 (1997): 2452-7. doi:10.1097/00007632-199710150-00025

Lee, Chang-Hyun, et al. “‘Lumbar Degenerative Kyphosis’ Is Not Byword for Degenerative Sagittal Imbalance: Time to Replace a Misconception.” Journal of Korean Neurosurgical Society vol. 60,2 (2017): 125-129. doi:10.3340/jkns.2016.0607.001

Lu, Daniel C, and Dean Chou. “Flatback syndrome.” Neurosurgery clinics of North America vol. 18,2 (2007): 289-94. doi:10.1016/j.nec.2007.01.007

Wiggins, Gregory C et al. “Management of iatrogenic flat-back syndrome.” Neurosurgical focus vol. 15,3 E8. 15 Sep. 2003, doi:10.3171/foc.2003.15.3.8

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The information herein on "Flat Back Syndrome" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez DC or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

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