Posts Tagged lumbar spine
Spine Anatomy, Lumbar Spine, Cervical Spine, Thoracic Spine discussion KBNI Houston, Katy, Woodlands, Sugarland, Texas Medical Center TMC
The anatomy of the spine is varied and complex, with strong bones working in tandem with discs (shock-absorbing pads between the vertebrae), as well as flexible ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The lumbar spine, cervical spine and thoracic spine each have their own very unique structure, allowing for different stresses and strains to be supported, and allowing for very different ranges of motion. A large collection of very sensitive nerves also dwells in the spinal column, transferring sensory information and motor control from the central nervous system to other parts of the body. There are eight different nerves associated with the cervical spine, twelve with the thoracic spine, and five with the lumbar spine. The nerves from the cervical spine generally supply movement and sensation to the arms. The nerves from the thoracic spine are mainly sensory, and supply sensation to the chest and back. The nerves from the lumbar spine mainly supply motor and sensory function to the legs.
As described above, when talking about the spine, it is generally divided into three primary regions: the lumbar spine (lower back), thoracic spine (middle back), and cervical spine (neck), while the base of the spine sits on a triangular bone called the sacrum. Each vertebra in the spine also has several parts. For example, vertebrae are divided into the body, which supports the weight of the spinal column, as well as the lamina, which covers the opening that would otherwise allow direct access to the spinal cord. Facet joints (one pair facing upward and one facing downward) link each vertebra in the spinal column and provide articulation points for movement. Repetitive load-bearing stress, poor weight management, and physical trauma can degrade the cartilage on the facet joints to the point where vertebrae are at risk for compressing nearby spinal nerves.
At times, generally from trauma or degenerative changes (wear and tear on the body), intervertebral discs located between the vertebral bodies, may herniated, and may push against the nerves leaving the cervical spine, lumbar spine, or thoracic spine. Disc herniations causing symptoms are much more frequent in the cervical spine and lumbar spine than they are in the thoracic spine. This is because the cervical and lumbar spine are subject to much movement, while the thoracic spine is held in a more rigid position as it is supported by the rib cage. A herniated disc in the lumbar spine may cause pain in the leg, and weakness of the leg. A herniated disc in the cervical spine may cause pain in the arm, or weakness of the arm. When a herniated disc in the cervical spine compresses the cervical spinal cord, it may result in a spinal cord injury and possibly partial or complete paralysis, from the level of the spinal cord compression and below. For example, if there is severe pressure on the spinal cord at the level of C5/6, a patient may have good strength in the deltoid muscles at the shoulders, but be otherwise paralyzed in the more distal arms and legs. A herniated disc in the thoracic spine may cause pain around the chest and rib cage, but when pressing on the thoracic spinal cord, may also cause partial or complete paralysis from the level of the compression and down.
Spinal nerves are particularly susceptible to injury, given that they do not regenerate once they have endured sufficient physical trauma. This is why conditions that threaten the integrity of the spinal cord—such as spinal tumors, bone spurs, and spinal fractures—must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Physicians often require several imaging exams, such as CT scans, X-rays, and magnetic resonance imaging, to determine whether there are any structural problems within the spinal column that may compromise the spinal cord.
From an anatomical perspective, many patients who suffer from low back pain and strains and sprains often simply need to develop their torso through a series of core strengthening low back strengthening exercises. Increased blood flow will help aid the network of ligaments, tendons, and muscles that assist the spinal column of the lumbar spine in distributing the body’s weight. Back pain, when understood and treated, can be improved without surgery. As such, core strengthening is often a hallmark of physical therapy regimens for patients who have undergone spinal procedures. The same can be said for neck pain. Strengthening of the neck and paraspinal muscles adjacent to the cervical spine may help with neck pain. Strengthening of the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine may also help with mid back thoracic pain.
Spine experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX treat disorders of the cervical spine, thoracic spine and lumbar spine. Many patients are seen after experiencing years of spine pain, or after having suffered a car or truck accident. Regardless of the cause or duration of pain, physicians at the KBNI obtain the appropriate imaging studies and nerve studies to look for the source of the pain. After the source of pain is localized, treatment can begin to attempt to treat and improve the pain. Neurosurgeons at the KBNI have found that the majority of patients suffering from pain do not need an operation on the spine, but when surgery is needed, they have the ability to perform the spine surgery using the latest techniques in minimally invasive spine surgery when appropriate.
The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX takes care of patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center (TMC) and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
Patients suffering from a herniated disc can contact the Kraus Back and Neck Institute at
……. Or visit www.SpineHealth.com to schedule an appointment online
Keywords: spine, lumbar spine, cervical spine, thoracic spine, Houston, Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center, TMC, Texas, TX, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin
Lumbar Vertebrae and You
The lumbar vertebrae are the lowest five bones of the spine, designated as L1-L5. These bones are significantly larger than other vertebrae in the spinal column, as well as differing substantially in shape. The lowest part of the spinal column is also responsible for bearing much of the body’s weight in the sitting and standing positions. This means that the intervertebral disks—pads in between each vertebra that help the body absorb the shock of repetitive movement—are the most prone to injury in the lumbar spine. Though the lower part of the spinal column is designed for both power and flexibility, there are sundry ways in which its function can become impaired.
Many of these lumbar spine-related problems are the result of injury, such as repetitive load-bearing stress sustained during manual labor. Other common causes include excessive weight, which can in turn cause herniated disks in the spinal column. When evaluating lower back pain, patients are advised to monitor closely any pain that seems to travel or “shoot” down the legs or arms. This can be a sign of compressed spinal nerves, caused when the disk provides insufficient protection against the stress and the vertebrae press down upon the spinal nerves. Due to the lumbar vertebrae’s location and role in load-bearing activities, an injury can be especially painful and debilitating. Patients are advised to seek medical consultation in order to better evaluate possible courses of action.
Should the integrity of the lumbar spinal column be compromised, physical rehabilitation will often form an essential component of a patient’s recovery. Physical therapy will include core-strengthening exercises to boost the spine’s support network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A stronger core translates into less load-bearing for the lumbar spine, which can reduce the possibility of future injury as well as aid in reducing a patient’s back pain. More serious injuries—such as severe trauma or structural deformities—may necessitate spinal surgery. If physical therapy, core strengthening, and weight management have proven ineffective, spinal specialists can help in determining what surgical procedures may alleviate the problem.