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Lumbar Lordosis: Effects of Sitting and Standing

Lord, Michael J., MD; Small, John M., MD; Dinsay, Jocylane M., RN, MN; Watkins, Robert G., MD

Occupational Health

Study Design. The effect of sitting versus standing posture on lumbar lordosis was studied retrospectively by radiographic analysis of 109 patients with low back pain.

Objective. To document changes in segmental and total lumbar lordosis between sitting and standing radiographs.

Summary of Background Data. Preservation of physiologic lumbar lordosis is an important consideration when performing fusion of the lumbar spine. The appropriate degree of lumbar lordosis has not been defined.

Methods. Total and segmental lumbar lordosis from L1 to S1 was assessed by an independent observer using the Cobb angle measurements of the lateral radiographs of the lumbar spine obtained with the patient in the sitting and standing positions.

Results. Lumbar lordosis averaged 49° standing and 34° sitting from L1 to S1, 47° standing and 33° sitting from L2 to S1, 31° standing and 22° sitting from L4 to S1, and 18° standing and 15° sitting from L5 to S1.

Conclusion. Lumbar lordosis while standing was nearly 50% greater on average than sitting lumbar lordosis. The clinical significance of this data may pertain to: 1) the known correlation of increased intradiscal pressure with sitting, which may be caused by this decrease in lordosis; 2) the benefit of a sitting lumbar support that increases lordosis; and 3) the consideration of an appropriate degree of lordosis in fusion of the lumbar spine.

From the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, Inglewood, California.

Acknowledgment date: March 12, 1996.

First revision date: July 3, 1996.

Acceptance date: July 30, 1996.

Device status category: 1.

Address reprint requests to: Robert G. Watkins, MD; Center for Spinal Surgery, Suite 700; 1510 San Pablo St.; Los Angeles, CA 90033.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.