Kyphotic curves refer to the outward curve of the thoracic spine (at the level of the ribs).
Lordotic curves refer to the inward curve of the lumbar spine (just above the buttocks).
Scoliotic curving is a sideways curvature of the spine and is always abnormal.
A small degree of both kyphotic and lordotic curvature is normal. Too much kyphotic curving causes round shoulders or hunched shoulders (Scheuermann's disease).
Too much lordotic curving is called swayback (lordosis). Lordosis tends to make the buttocks appear more prominent. Children with significant lordosis will have a significant space beneath their lower back when lying on their back on a hard surface.
If the lordotic curve is flexible (when the child bends forward the curve reverses itself), it is generally not a concern. If the curve does not move, medical evaluation and treatment are needed.
Other tests to rule out suspected disorders causing the condition
Spiegel DA, Dormans JP. The spine.In: Kliegman RM,Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds.Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 671.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.