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Injuries and Diseases Glossary

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A wide array of spinal injuries and deformities exist. Ideally, the spine will have perfect structural balance for maximum flexibility. A spinal injury should never be ignored. The spine should be able to support the body’s weight without issue. Let’s look at some of the most important terms relating spine injuries.

Lumbar-  The lower portion of the back.

Thoracic- The upper and middle portion of the back.

Cervical- The section of the spine involving the neck.

Congenital- This term refers to a condition present at birth.

Idiopathic- Something that comes about for unknown reasons.

Degenerative- A development that occurs as a result of the aging process or general wear-and-tear.


If one views the spine from the side, he notices three subtle curves. The inward curve of the lumbar portion of the spine is known as lordosis. The cervical portion of the spine (neck) also features a lordosis. It is possible for the lower portion of the back curve inward in an excessive manner. This rare spine deformity is referred to as hyperlordosis to distinguish it from the lumbar spine’s regular lordosis. Hyperlordosis sometimes occurs to compensate for hyperkyphosis.


The middle (thoracic) portion of the spine has an outward curve referred to as kyphosis. The purpose of this curve is to maintain the body’s center of gravity. The curves maintain harmony and align the body’s center of gravity above the pelvis and hips. If kyphosis is extreme, it makes the patient look somewhat like a hunchback. Such an extreme is sometimes referred to as hyperkyphosis in order to distinguish it from regular thoracic spine kyphosis.

Sagittal Imbalance

When the spine’s curvature appears abnormal when viewed from the side, it is known as a sagittal imbalance. The different types of sagittal imbalance include chin-on-chest syndrome, flatback syndrome, and kyphosis.

Flatback Syndrome

This spinal injury occurs when the lumbar spine lacks normal lordosis.

Chin on Chest Syndrome

This is kyphosis in the upper portion of the thoracic and cervical that is so extreme the chin drops down to the chest. The condition is sometimes called head ptosis or dropped head syndrome.


The spine’s abnormal curvature when viewed from behind. Congenital scoliosis is present at birth. Infantile scoliosis is present in patients between infancy and three years of age. Juvenile scoliosis occurs between the ages of four and ten. Adolescent scoliosis occurs between 11 and 18 years of age. Adult scoliosis can be degenerative or idiopathic.