The second lumbar vertebra is called the L2. It is one of five vertebrae in the lower back responsible for supporting the weight of the upper body and providing flexibility for a wide range of motion. The L2 shares many characteristics with the L1, including long, wide pedicles, a square-shaped spinous process and neural passageways larger than those found in the cervical and thoracic regions of the spine. The L2 is slightly larger than the adjoining L1 and slightly smaller than the L3 below.
The spinal cord, the part of the central nervous system that transmits motor and sensory signals to and from the brain, runs from the base of the skull at the top of the cervical spine to the L1 toL2 level of the spinal column. In most people, the L2 level is where the spinal cord ends and a series of horsetail-like nerves called the cauda equina begins. The nerve roots that originate at the L2 vertebra innervate the front of the thigh and transmit motor signals that cause the hip to bend.
Spinal conditions affecting the L2
A nerve root that is compressed, or “pinched,” at the L2 level of the lumbar vertebrae can cause pain at the site of the compression, as well as discomfort, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness that radiates to the quadriceps (front of the thigh). This nerve compression can be caused by a number of spinal conditions, most of which originate through normal wear and tear as we age. These conditions include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Spinal stenosis
Treatment for L2 conditions
Under a physician’s direction, the symptoms associated with the above conditions normally can be managed using conservative treatments such as pain medication and physical therapy. However, if chronic lower back pain persists despite weeks of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option. In that case, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures can help you find relief from back pain.