Posts Tagged lumbar vertebrae
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.