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Vertebrae of the Week: Review of Your Lumbar Region Vertebrae

Over the past few weeks we’ve explored the lumbar, or lower back, vertebrae. While these don’t protect root nerve bundles like your upper and middle spine, they do bear the weight of almost your entire back above them. They also do protect the largest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve.

They are, as such, particularly vulnerable to compression injuries and various conditions related to age, wear and tear. Let’s take a look at each of the lumbar region vertebrae, from the top L1 vertebra through the lowest L5 vertebra, see what function each has, and the dangers of injury for each.

L1 Vertebra

The L1 vertebra is the highest bone in your lumbar region. It is what is known as a “transitional” vertebra, serving as the point where your thoracic region becomes the lumbar. Injuries to the L1 region are most often related to compression issues, with one of the most common being spondylolisthesis.

L2 Vertebra

Next down in your spine is the L2 vertebra. At this level, we see injuries to the sciatic nerve, such as sciatica, becoming common. Other injuries to the L2 include degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, and spinal stenosis, among others. Injuries to this region can cause weakness, pain, tingling, and loss of function.

L3 Vertebra

The L3 region sees many of the same sorts of injuries as the L2, including bone spurs, spondylosis, spinal arthritis, bulging discs and others. Sports injuries from spinal compression are common at this level. Symptoms of L3 injuries involve radiating lower back pain that moves through the buttocks and legs. Feet and lower legs can be affected as well.

L4 Vertebra

The L4 region carries much of the weight of your body above, and protects the sacral and lumbar plexus nerve endings. These nerves are responsible for sensory and motor functions, and they include the sciatic nerve. Additionally, the quadratus femoris, femoral, obturator and superior gluteal nerves run through this region. These impact your hip and pelvic muscles. Common injuries at this area include osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and others.

L5 Vertebra

Finally, we reach the lowest vertebra in your spine, the L5. As with the other vertebra in this region of your back, the sciatic nerve runs through this area, which means sciatica can be a common condition arising from injuries in this area.

Symptoms of sciatica include pain that is both localized and radiating. Numbness, tingling and weakness in the muscles and legs can also result, and can affect all the way down into the patient’s feet. Such injuries can be extremely disruptive and even debilitating. Paralysis or lesser function loss can result.

Chiropractors and the Lumbar Region

Many of the injuries in your lumbar region are the result of compression, or the cartilage between your bones wearing down with age. Others involve herniated or bulging discs. Misalignments and subluxations can result.

When this happens, your best bet is to visit a knowledgeable and qualified chiropractor. The right chiropractor can address the problem and even improve your overall wellness. If you’re in the Woodbridge area, ACT Wellness has been the leading chiropractor for almost a decade. Give us a call for an examination today.

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