L3 vertebra — definition and function
The L3 vertebra is located in the lumbar spine, which is in the lower back portion of the spinal column. The lumbar spine typically has five vertebrae, though some people range from four to six vertebrae in the lumbar region.
The purpose of the lumbar spine is to stabilize and support the weight of the body, while still allowing the spine to move and bend freely. Because of the versatile nature of the lumbar spine, the vertebrae in this area are prone to injury and the development of spine conditions. The L3 vertebra is particularly susceptible to injury because it is the middle vertebra in the lumbar spine — that means it handles the most stress when the lumbar twists and bends. Additionally, when people lift heavy objects incorrectly, most of the damage is done to the L3 vertebra.
Spine conditions that affect the L3 vertebra
Spine conditions tend to increase as we age due to weight gain and the natural compression of the vertebrae on the discs and joints found in between each vertebra.
The L3 vertebra holds most of the weight and stress of the body compared to the other vertebrae in the lumbar spine. Because of this, there are several spine conditions that can develop at the L3 vertebra and impact the surrounding nerve root, disc and/or joint. The most common spine conditions at the L3 vertebra include:
There are several other conditions that may develop as a result of vertebral compression in the lumbar spine, which often impacts the disc and joints in the spine.
If a spine condition occurs in the L3 vertebra, the symptoms will likely include chronic lower back pain and radiating pain in the buttock and leg of the impacted side. Additionally, the leg and foot might feel weak and numb due to the impacted nerve root being unable to send strong signals to the extremities.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, we encourage you to reach out to our care team at Laser Spine Institute. We are here to inform you about your spine condition and the conservative and surgical treatment options available to you. We believe that you have a right to make an informed decision about your spine care needs. Let us help guide you to find the treatment option that fits your needs.