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What is the Lumbar Spine?

P. Illsley
P. Illsley

The lumbar spine is the lower portion of the back. It is also sometimes referred to as the lumbar vertebrae and is the largest area of the back that possesses the ability to move freely. The lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae and all of the discs that are located between these bones.

The vertebral column begins at the neck with the cervical vertebrae. Then moving down further on the back, the majority of the back is called the thoracic vertebrae. In the lower area of the back are the lumbar vertebrae.

Sections of the spine.
Sections of the spine.

The lumbar spine is very sophisticated in the way it is designed. It is essentially what makes it possible for the upper and lower body to connect to each other. Besides all of the many bones it is made up of, the lower spine area is also composed of a network of nerves.

The spine contains 24 vertebrae in total. Doctors and chiropractors use a special code whereby they number each one of the vertebrae for easier reference when patients come to them complaining of back pain. There are five vertebrae that make up the lower back: L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. These vertebrae fall victim to aches and pains more often than any others due to the fact that they carry the brunt of an individual’s body weight. This is the area where the most stress is exerted on the spine.

The Lumber spine refers to the lower back.
The Lumber spine refers to the lower back.

Back pain, and in particular lower back pain, is one of the most common health complaints to afflict both men and women alike. Back pain in the lumbar spine can be caused by muscle strain, while in other instances it can be symptomatic of a more serious problem such as a herniated disc or the start of arthritis. Muscle strain in the lumbar spine is very often caused by a strain due to rigorous exercise or overexerting a muscle that is not often used.

The lumbar spine may need to be iced to relieve pain.
The lumbar spine may need to be iced to relieve pain.

In order to relieve the pain once it sets in, a person should rest his or her back as much as possible and apply an ice pack to it. He or she also might want to take an over-the-counter remedy, such as ibuprofen. If the pain does not show any improvement after a couple of days to a week, or if it continues to get worse instead of better, then it is time to pay a visit to a physician or chiropractor to find out what is going on.

Discussion Comments


Have an ablation done, but make sure you do it with sedation. It burns like hell if you don't and you will regret it. Ablation typically gives you one to five years of relief.


I have been diagnosed with herniated L3 and L4 from lifting heavy bags of garbage four years ago. I still remain in pain. I take medications but I have to pace myself, rest my back and limit my chores. It was very hard to adjust to this as I had a busy life and loved my job I have flare ups, which means I've done something to aggravate my back. I have muscle spasms and back pain, and my right leg hurts and tingles to my ankle. I really try to take care so I do not overdo it because I'll pay later. Any suggestions or similarities? Help.


Both my husband and I have lower back pain. My husbands is a combination of lumbar spine arthritis and a herniated disc.

I have heard that back surgery is very painful and not always very successful, so this is something we are trying to avoid.

I have a manipulation treatment on my spine every month. Every month my L5 vertebrae is out of alignment. They say you can actually train your muscles to correct themselves, but it takes regular treatment.

Our spine is critical to our overall health, and many diseases and ailments such as colds can settle in our spine.

Another thing we did to help the lumbar spine was to get a different bed. We have one of those beds where you can individually control how hard or soft the mattress is.

This was a good investment for us, as we don't wake up with an aching back anymore.


@SarahSon - I tried acupuncture for my lumbar spine pain. I don't know if my experience is typical of most, but I did not notice relief right away.

After several treatments, I did notice a difference in my pain, and it was more manageable. The small prick of the needles is really nothing compared to the nagging, chronic pain of your back.

My lumbar spine degeneration has been going on for several years. The acupuncture helps with the pain, but does not slow down the degeneration of my spine.

Eventually I may have to have some kind of lumbar spine surgery. I continue to get treatments about every 4 weeks, but can tell the relief is not as great as it was when I first started.


If you suffer from constant lower back pain like I do, you know how this really wears on you after awhile.

I have tried everything I can think of to alleviate this pain without taking medication, but have not had much luck yet.

My lumbar spine symptoms started after years of working for a moving company. When you are young, you don't think anything about picking up large, heavy objects and moving them.

You just know it needs to be done, so you just do it. Now I am really paying the price for that. I go to a chiropractor on a regular basis, but that only brings temporary relief.

One thing I have not tried yet is acupuncture. If it works, I think it would be worth it. I have heard the needles really don't hurt very much and you often get immediate relief.

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    • Sections of the spine.
      By: Alexandr Mitiuc
      Sections of the spine.
    • The Lumber spine refers to the lower back.
      By: underdogstudios
      The Lumber spine refers to the lower back.
    • The lumbar spine may need to be iced to relieve pain.
      By: pixelrobot
      The lumbar spine may need to be iced to relieve pain.
    • Chiropractors and doctors identify the lumbar verterbrae as L1 through L5.
      By: Rainer Plendl
      Chiropractors and doctors identify the lumbar verterbrae as L1 through L5.
    • Back pain in the lumbar spine could be attributed to a herniated disc.
      By: rob3000
      Back pain in the lumbar spine could be attributed to a herniated disc.