Every spine has a natural curvature; this is useful as the curves help the back absorb stress as we move about our daily lives. However, when these curves become too pronounced it can lead to problems such as back pain. In serious cases, over-curved spines may even lead to long-term muscular issues and cause a patient problems breathing. Therefore it’s essential to spot this unnatural curvature of the spine early to correct it or at the very least prevent the condition deteriorating.
Three types of Spinal Curvature
There are three main types of curvature to the spine to be aware of:
Kyphosis – when the spine curves forwards, causing the upper back to be abnormally rounded. This can be caused by a number of factors, including osteoporosis, where the vertebrae become weakened, arthritis, or very commonly, poor posture over an extended period of time.
Lordosis – where the spine curves outwards, especially in the lumbar region. This is often caused by a patient being overweight. If your patient is not overweight and appears to show symptoms of lordosis they may have a spinal condition such as osteoporosis or Spondylolisthesis, where a vertebrae in the back slips forwards.
Scoliosis – where the spine curves to one side. It is often unclear what causes scoliosis though we can certainly provide postural support to ease the discomfort it may cause.
Correct Seated Position
When looking to assist patients with any curvature of the spine, we are looking to replicate their natural ‘upright lordosis’ – the position their spine would naturally rest in if they were standing up straight. Note that while everyone’s spine is different, we all have a slight, natural outward curve and the spine should not sit completely straight.
Place support cushions under the lumbar region, being careful not to overextend. For patients with kyphosis you are looking to give them something to push their lower back gently outwards; for patients with lordosis the aim is to give them something to press their lower back into. You may want to place cushions around the hips to help hold correct position. To prevent scoliosis, place support cushions around the sides of the back and shoulders.
It is important to make sure that the cushions are tight in place and will not slip. With the support placed in the correct position your patients should feel more comfortable, find breathing easier and will have a reduced chance of any pressure injuries.
At Recliners we offer a wide range of pressure care cushions to ensure you can help meet your patients’ needs. From Vasco-Elastic which moulds to a patient’s form, to gel cushions and even air cushions, we have the solution to help your patients achieve maximum comfort.
For more on our pressure care solutions, click here.