Conditions affecting the vertebrae in the lumbar spine

Normally, there are five lumbar vertebrae in this region of the spine — designated L1 to L5 — although in rare cases some people may have four or six. These vertebrae are the largest because they support the weight of the upper body while being flexible enough for movement.

These stresses on our lumbar spine vertebrae make this region of the spine highly vulnerable to the development of degenerative spine conditions such as herniated discs and spinal arthritis.

Symptoms of damage to the lumbar spinal vertebrae

The lumbar spinal vertebrae and the spinal discs that cushion and support them are susceptible to damage because of their weight load as well as the frequent movements of the lower back.

The spinal discs naturally weaken and dehydrate as we age, which can lead to conditions like bulges, ruptures, herniation and loss of disc height. Displaced disc material can cause pain by compressing spinal nerves in this area of the spine. Additionally, problems affecting the vertebrae such as spinal osteoarthritis or spondylolisthesis (slippage of the vertebrae) can also lead to aches, stiffness and spinal nerve compression.

Conditions affecting the lumbar vertebrae and discs can also cause radiating symptoms to travel into lower extremities such as the buttocks, thighs, calves, feet and toes. Specific symptoms include weakness, tingling or numbness. If you experience any of these symptoms in addition to lower back pain and it does not go away after a few days to a week, you should visit your primary care doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment options for conditions affecting the lumbar vertebrae

After medical imaging, a thorough physical exam and a series of questions about your symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with a degenerative spine condition. In a high number of cases, lasting relief can be found through conservative methods like medication, physical therapy and making lifestyle changes like exercising more, eating better and improving posture. However, if spine surgery becomes a serious consideration because these options have not brought the relief you were seeking, reach out to Laser Spine Institute.

Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ To date, our minimally invasive spine procedures have helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain.

Contact us for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to find out if you are a candidate for our procedures. You can also find out more information about lumbar vertebrae conditions and the treatment options available to you so you can reclaim your life from back pain.