The lumbar spine usually consists of five large vertebrae in the lower back, although it is not uncommon for someone to have six lumbar vertebrae. These five or six vertebrae are more flexible than the 12 thoracic vertebrae in the middle spine. This flexibility allows for bending and rotation in the lower back.
The lumbar spine also supports a major portion of the body’s weight. This, coupled with the region’s relative flexibility, makes the lumbar region more susceptible to injury and degeneration brought on by natural wear and tear.
Conditions within the lumbar spine that can lead to chronic pain include:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Bone spur
Sciatica is another lower back issue that causes many people extreme discomfort. Sciatica involves the sciatic nerve (the longest nerve in the body), which originates from the lumbar spine and the sacrum. This large nerve sends sensory impulses to the back of the legs and feet, which is why leg pain is a common symptom of sciatica. This pain usually occurs because a nerve root within the lumbar region has become compressed or irritated due to of a traumatic injury or degenerative condition. Conservative treatment, such as exercise, physical therapy, or pain medicine, often can be used to manage the lower back pain caused by these and other spinal conditions.
If your doctor presents surgery as an option for your lumbar spine condition, consider Laser Spine Institute (LSI) as an alternative to traditional open-back surgery. Contact LSI for a free review of your MRI or CT scan, and to learn how our award-winning surgeons can help you rediscover a life without pain using minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.